Report for the Haptics Symposium conference 2012
Venue: Vancouver, Canada
Dates: 4-7 March 2012
The Haptics Symposium conference is a vibrant forum where psychophysicists, engineers and designers of applications and interactions come together to share advances, spark new collaborations and envision a future that benefits from rich physical interactions between computers and human operators, generated through haptic (force and tactile) devices.
Haptics Symposium and World Haptics Conference are held alternatively every year. For 2012, Haptics Symposium was held in Vancouver, Canada.
In my opinion, among all talks in Haptics Symposium, the most inspiring one is the talk titled “Gravity + Multi-touch = 3D Tacking”, given by Dr. Patrick Baudish. He introduced a “Multitoe” system that allows users to interact with a huge floor. He envisions that when the tabletop becomes larger and larger, it will be hard for users to have direct manipulation experience with the tabletop. The foot-floor interaction can solve the problem. He created one back-projected floor for display and underneath the floor, he uses high resolution camera to capture shoe print. FTIR algorithm is used to accurately track user posture.
The following are papers that are interesting, as it concerns a major area where haptics is predicted to be deployed, on the mobile and gaming area.
1. Adaptive Level of Detail in Dynamic, Refreshable Tactile Graphics
This paper investigates gains in user appreciation and performance when the level of detail of tactile graphics is dynamically altered either at the press of a button or automatically, as a function of exploration speed. This concept was evaluated by asking 9 visually impaired participants to perform hierarchical spatial search tasks in a concert hall illustration. The tasks could be simplified by first searching for a section in a sparse illustration, and then a seat in a detailed illustration. The results show no improvement in task performance but indicate a user preference for explicitly controlling the level of details with the manual toggle.
2. TWuiST: A Discrete Tactile-Proprioceptive Display for Eye and Ear Free Output on Mobile Devices
Proprioception –the human ability to sense the orientation of limbs without vision or hearing– is one of the main drivers of complex motor operations, which is something mobile interfaces may be able to exploit to achieve robust eye and ear free forms of interaction.
This paper explores the use of proprioception as an output modality by combining kinesthetic information of a mobile device with vibrotactile feedback. The performance of discrete proprioceptive displays is comparable with more advanced forms of tactile feedback provision -but unlike these- proprioceptive displays can be facilitated using features already present in current mobile devices. The authors’ experiences elicited a number of guidelines and tradeoffs for the design of discrete proprioceptive displays.
3. Haptic Actuator Design Parameters That Influence Affect and Attention
This particular paper is good in the sense it provides a compelling guide to help haptic designers think about what type of affect they would like their users to experience. Most haptic feedback devices to date are designed to be alerts or warnings that capture a user’s attention. This can be disruptive or annoying when the user needs to focus on another task of higher importance. Authors’ believe that haptic feedback that elicits positive affect can manage attention capture across a wider spectrum than feedback with negative affect. In this study, they explore the affective response to several haptic actuator designs for better management of user attention. They also evaluate six parameters that may impact affect: stimulus location on the body, actuation type, actuation intensity, actuation profile, actuator material and actuator geometry. Of the six parameters, they found that actuation profile had the most significant impact on affect. We also found that devices with negative affect were better able to capture the user’s attention. Due to the variability in the verbalized preferences among subjects, it was proposed to outfitting all haptic actuators with an intensity control.
Huggy Pajama was selected to be shown in the demo sessions. Before we departed to Vancouver, it was an honour to receive Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, Managing Director of Microsoft Research request to demo to him in the very first session. Although he did not satisfy with the fidelity of the hug reproduction, he did agree that he was comfortable with the massage feeling that was created by the system.
We also got one very interesting feedback from the audience there. In Singapore, quite a lot the user who tried the jacket complained that the jacket is too hot to be worn. However in Vancouver, ironically, the user was happy that it is warm to wear the thin jacket.
We had also seen and tried other prototypes during the demo sessions. One very interesting demo which also won the Best Hands-on Demonstration in Haptics Symposium 2012 is the “Handwriting Transmission System Using Noncontact Tactile Display”. They used 384 ultrasonic transducers to create tactile feedback to hand palm (area of 85 x 55mm). During the demo, they showed off an interaction of stroking on a touch panel and reproducing the stroking to the palm. Although the force is extremely small which is only 18mN, the fidelity is high enough to amaze most of the users.
Another amazing demo which is novel yet simple is the TECHTILE toolkit. It uses sound waves to generate steel-ball-rolling illusion in a paper cup. In addition, beats are also generated for the badminton racket. It feels like it really hits the shuttlecock. Their demos are extremely intuitive and require almost zero effort to understand the interactions. Their systems were robust enough to run 24/7 during Haptics Symposium without requiring intervention or explanation from personnel in charge.
We had seen a lot of haptics sensing and actuation methods. For haptics actuation, the technology applied is very limited. We can almost list all them down; there were only vibration motor, tactor, servo motor, solenoid, speaker, ultrasonic and pneumatics. Our lab has the experience in all of them and we believe that our haptics research is on par with other top universities.
In Haptics Symposium, Huggy Pajama was one of the few prototypes that are mobile and battery powered. Surprisingly, Huggy Pajama was the only prototype that uses pneumatic method and we might be the pioneer in pneumatic application in haptics.