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A touch of the future: contact-expressive devices

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1 Author(s)
K. McGee ; Linkoping Univ., Sweden

Contact-expressive devices could improve our lives-from practical improvements that let us interact with devices when other modalities are impossible, inappropriate, or inadequate to devices that have important consequences for physical well-being. We can also imagine using contact expressions in devices that are pleasurable, playful, artistic, or otherwise important to a human's experience. This paper discusses the technical development of sensor-motor systems, tactile interfaces, and technologies that can embody and understand affect. Contact-expressive devices are technologies that understand and use touch in meaningful ways-that can distinguish between a press and a caress. Also discussed are the following issues: technical requirements and the nature of contact expressions. Although a fairly large body of research exists regarding nonverbal communication, the majority of this work is on visual expression (facial expressions, physical appearance, direction of gaze, physical posture, and other visible forms of body language) and paralinguistics (such as vocal inflection, pitch, volume, and speech rate). Work needs to begin on studies of human contact with the goal of leveraging those insights for the design of contact-expressive devices-and work needs to begin on the implementation of technologies that have rich contact-expressive range and appeal.

Published in:

IEEE MultiMedia  (Volume:11 ,  Issue: 1 )