Annika Waern is professor in Human-Computer Interaction and conducts research in play design and interactive technology. She love to sing and sings in two of Uppsala's choirs.
Why / how did you become a researcher?
I became a researcher because after I graduated from my master degree I felt that there was so much more I had to learn! I understood I wanted to learn things no one else has ever studied before so I started researching them myself.
What’s the most fun part of your field?
In the last 10-15 years I’ve been focusing on play and games and by nature those are very fun activities – even if it can be simultaneously challenging and frustrating to engage in play. The reason I chose that research topic was that I realised that play and entertainment are important for all human beings, children as well as adults, and they have a central roll in modern culture as well as digital media.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about bringing to light the importance of, what we often consider as “unnecessary”, everyday life, leisure activities and entertainment. Research becomes so easily focused on problem solving that we often forget that to live a complete life we need space to do what makes us happy and helps us feel good. I want to be a part of creating technology that can make our lives more meaningful and not only more effective.
What research project do you work on right now?
Right now I’m collaborating with landscape architects on a fun project that creates interactive technology for use on playgrounds near regular households. Just recently I’ve also finished a project together with Tom Tits Experiment which has a big interactive exposition in Södertälje. In near future we hope to do even more projects with focus on how children and adults kan together discover technology and science in a playful way.
Any tips for other current or future researchers / students?
Find something you are passionate about! You will work with the same topic for a long while if you want to get good at it seen as researchers become very specialised in their approaches. That said, the feeling of discovering something new no one else before has thought of stays fantastic forever!