A Special Interest Group on Designed and Engineered Friction in Interaction

At ACM CHI 2021


This is a special interest group on the idea of addition ‘friction’ to interactions. Most of the time designers and engineers try to make interactions with technology less effortful. Frictions are about doing the opposite in order to change the way people interact with something.

A pre-print of the SIG proposal is available in PDF and HTML form.

Post-session update

The SIG was well attended, with a peak of 50 people in the room during the two hours of the meeting. As organisers we were delighted with the enthusiasm attendees brought along with them; there were lots and lots of really interesting perspectives on this topic. We used Miro board for the event. Below is a read-only embedded version of the output, but you can also download a PDF (NB – Large ~15MB).


The SIG is taking place on Monday 10th May at 10.00 (British Summer Time, 09.00 UTC). It is scheduled to last for 75 minutes. It is a virtual event and will take place through the CHI conference tool. You will need to be registered at the conference for at least the day of the SIG in order to participate. Why not add the SIG to your personalised CHI schedule?


Our goal for the SIG is to spend as much time as possible making most use of the fact we’re in the same virtual place at the same time. Therefore, the schedule is heavily focused on facilitating discussions between you, the attendees.

  • 10.00 BST/11.00 CEST/0900 UTC SIG Introduction from the Organisers
  • 10.05 Discussions begin
  • 11.10 Closing comments
  • 11.15 BST End of session.

We don’t know how many people are going to come along – we could have 15 people or we could have 100. We have plans to deal with a variety of attendance levels and we won’t know until the session starts which route we’re taking. Be assured that our primary goal for the SIG is to maximise opportunities for people to share thoughts and ideas.

Session tasks

We plan to orient discussions around ‘tasks’, to help provide structure and impetus to discussions.

Examplar generation task

What are examples of frictions? Do these examples have anything in common? Any good examples of things that could be a friction but perhaps aren’t? Why not?

Theory generation task

Can we generate a single account of what a friction is and why it works? Psychological accounts? Social accounts? Design? Does it make sense to try and do this or are there too many domain-specific (applied and research) factors?

Uses generation task

What’s the goal of using frictions? Why do we need to introduce them into interactions? Should we? What contexts can we imagine frictions being more or less successful? Why? How do we factor in people’s expectations for quick and easy interactions everywhere?

Post-session social

The session is compact and it’d be nice to have some time for more social discussions. We’re going to have an evening (or breakfast where you are!) social (completely unofficial and unaffiliated with the conference) from 19.00 BST on Zoom on Monday 10th May (i.e., the evening after the SIG in the UK). Please do come along to continue discussions, to make some new friends or catch up with old ones. We’ll keep the session open as long as folks want to stay. Please feel free to come along with a coffee, a beer, mint tea, or nothing at all. (Or pop by while you enjoy some breakfast, lunch or dinner!)

After the session

If attendees are keen to do so, we will have a variety of ways that people can continue to reflect on and discuss the ideas from the SIG. We will discuss these in detail at the end of the session.