New digital devices monitoring the body are increasingly used as research devices. As highly intimate new media objects, placed next to our skin, they challenge our notions of privacy and contribute to the generation of affects—disrupting considerations of “successful” research. In this article, we offer an auto-ethnographic study of (not) using a wearable sleep-tracking device, the ŌURA smart ring, as a research device. We discuss the unexpected, intense affects we experienced when attempting to use the ring during a “failed” research process, feeling enchanted and harassed by it in turn. Reflecting on our affects enables us to identify different forms of intimacy: those related to disrupting the bodily norms of academia, and those disrupting the privacy of the sleeping body. To conclude, we discuss the potential of these disruptions to offer a better understanding of the significant role of the thing-power of research devices in qualitative research process.
Field of science