An exploration of affective haptics. Augmenting digital conversation to communicate levels of engagement and highlight emotional events.

Royal College of Art & Imperial College London

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Wearable haptic sensations

A linear strip along the inner arm provides a stroking sensation to indicate the level of engagement. The length of the stroke determines the intensity of engagement of the other person; the tempo is dictated by their heartbeat.

An axial ring around the forearm highlights discrete emotional events based on a ‘dictionary of sensations’. There is one specific sensation coded for each of joy, anger, sadness, disgust, surprise and fear.

The experimental wearable is a hand-sewn mix of lycra, nylon and cotton jersey.

Reactive sensing

Superficial, conversational engagement is measured through system interaction analysis including response time, number of other apps open, and eye gaze tracking. Deeper engagement considers facial micro-expressions and sentiment analysis on written messages.

LRA vibration motors and accompanying LEDs are controlled via Arduino and a custom circuit board. Each of the ten motors are controlled individually to administer the haptic sensations.

The motors are arranged and sewn into place to mimic the visuals of the human nervous system.