Accepted paper:

Heroes or Cyborgs? - Wearables in Emergency Medical Services


Andrea zur Nieden (Albert-Ludwigs-Universit├Ąt Freiburg)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will outline how humans and social relations are manufactured in telemedicine using new audio-visual communication media and wearables such as data goggles and headsets.

Paper long abstract:

This explorative paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork from a multi-disciplinary, collaborative research project that aims to better interlink the different agents within emergency medical services e.g. via data goggles. These devices shall enable emergency doctors to remote-assist paramedics in treating patients. As audio-visual telemedicine is a new example of interaction without bodily presence, the paper will outline the specific social pattern of this form of tele-action (Paul Virillio) or even remote control. This pattern involves new modes of standardization and control, but also diverse ways how users adopt, convert or reject the technology. Our fieldwork shows that incorporation of telemedicine by emergency medical personal varies a lot between organizations and relates to different organizational cultures and codes. Traditional notions of manliness and heroism common among fire services seem to contradict telemedic remote control and lead to its rejection, while other rescue services embrace the new technologies willingly and describe them as empowering rather than restricting. I will contrast these varying forms of user's adoption with the construction of "humans" in the telemedical design.

panel T069
Manufacturing Humans While Developing Social Robots, Smart Environments & Wearables