Karey HelmsPhD Student in Interaction Design at KTH Royal Institute of Technology

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I am a PhD student in the Interaction Design Research group at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. Prior to beginning my PhD in December 2016, I worked as a Interaction and Service Designer within enterprise Internet of Things in London. Originally from Tennessee, I have an MFA in Interaction Design from Umeå Institute of Design and a BS in Architecture from the University of Virginia. I am currently on parental leave until March 2020.


As our everyday objects and environments are increasingly embedded with data-driven systems our interactions with and through technology are becoming increasingly dynamic, contextual, and intertwined. The resulting technological complexity of such systems is juxtaposed by a continuation of design approaches striving for simplicity for and within end-user experiences. One such approach is an interest in smart implicit interactions, or interactions with technology that are unseen or unnoticed yet are proactively operating on our behalf. As implicit interactions hide complexity in favor of convenience and efficiency, they ignore the messiness of our human idiosyncrasies and desires. This results in a reconfiguring of social and material agencies whereby it is not clear what is being sensed, the implications of this information being used, and when and how to intervene with technology deliberately made invisible.

In response, I am investigating what is at stake and the role of design in this shift towards smart implicit interactions by designing with intimate and somatic data, for private and caring relationships, and in spaces where technology is often considered out of place. These involve situations that are difficult to quantify, where we hope to feel our safest, maintain the most privacy, and where a breakdown or unintended consequence of technology can be the most revealing, devastating, and shameful regarding our personal well-being. By engaging with sensitive and often considered taboo contexts, I aim to challenge approaches to and definitions of implicit and explicit interactions, while exploring design approaches that engage with immanent complexity.

My research is a part of the Implicit Interaction project at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.


In my spare time I support my partner’s fermentation business Homemade Cultures.

I am also an avid hiker, below are some highlights:
Nepal, 20 days Annapurna Circuit (5,416 m / 17,769 ft), 10 days Ganesh Himal
Georgia, 17 days in the Caucasus (including Mestia to Ushguli)
Chile, 10 days Torres del Paine (Circuit trek)
Argentina, 5 days Los Glaciares National Park (near Mount Fitz Roy)
Sweden, 5 days Kungsleden (2014 – Kebnekaise 2,106 m / 6,909 ft), 2 days Sarek, 2 days Höga Kusten
Columbia, 4 days Ciudad Perdida
Norway, 7 days Lofoten Islands (2017 – Hermannsdalstinden Summit 1029 m / 3376 ft), 4 days Lofoten Islands (2014)
Peru, 4 days Inca Trail (4,215 m / 13,829 ft)
United Kingdom, 4 days South Downs Way, 3 days Isle of Wight Coastal Path (105 km / 65 mi)
Panama, 2 days Volcan Baru summit (3,474 m / 11,398 ft)
Indonesia, 1 day Mount Batur (Volcano)
Turkey, 1 day Lycian Way, 2 days Cappadocian Valleys
New Zealand, 1 day Abel Tasman

Sometimes I blog about it: happyspooner.com