MIT Media Lab, MAS 834: Tangible Interfaces
Advisor: Hiroshi Ishii
Team Member: Hye Jun Youn, Aria Xiying Bao, Joseph Wu, Vishal Vaidhyanathan, Lillian Liu
TeleCon (Tele + Silicon), is a pneumatically actuated flexible haptic wearable device composed of a soft silicone patch that could be worn on three different body parts - hands, wrist and neck.
TeleCon provides tactile stimuli by leveraging kinesthetic cues from force-feedback silicon actuators that push against the user’s body. We also present our engineered self-contained soft-robotic wearable that can be worn anywhere on the user’s skin (e.g., face, arms, legs).
TeleCon features multiple modalities of use, with actuators attached to handheld controllers or directly to the user’s body, affording a high degree of flexibility and numerous use cases that are outlined in this research.
1. Virtual RealityHaptic VR (past to present)
The sensation of feeling the shape of an object when grasping it in Virtual Reality (VR) enhances a sense of presence and the ease of object manipulation. Most prior works focus on force feedback on fingers, yet the haptic emulation of grasping a 3D shape often requires the sensation of touch using the entire hand. When a user's hand encounters an object in a mixed reality world, pneumatic patches on hands and wrist inflate in an appropriate shape, ready for grasping. Then the patches deflate when the object is no longer in play.
When wearing VR goggles, users are unaware of their surroundings and may risk injury from running into surrounding objects, walls, stairs, and other obstacles. A wearable device on the neck alerts the user by inflating itself when a user gets close to a wall, signaling the user not to move forward. A neck-placed haptic stimuli is most appropriate because the neck tends to lead the movement, and can potentially cause a change in a movement when forces are applied.
2. Save and revisit your sensation (past to present)
Visual and auditory information can be easily saved in current daily used devices and shared in social media. However, the tactile sensation is still difficult to save and share within currently available interfaces. Recording a memory of tactile sensation captures something more vivid, immediate, and visceral - a core component of our perception tied to emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, and excitement. Revisiting memories in media with audio, visual, and haptic outputs makes them more likely to accurately replicate our original experience. We created and designed an application that saves patterns and forces of inflation on our device and shares the tactile sensation with other people. Users can save ephemeral sensations, such as the feel of bubbles popping on their skin, or the impression of their dogs’ paws. By storing and transmitting past sensations on our devices, one can retrieve memories, share sensations with their loved ones, or even sell and buy unique patterns of sensation in social media or the Metaverse.
3. I feel what you feel (Present to present)
We did a round of usability tests that recruited 12 pairs of participants. In each pair, we ask one participant to touch a textile and describe their feelings. Then we ask the other participant to wear our haptic device and describe the sensation from it. Participants verbalize which sensations they feel on their skin, using a list of pre-existing descriptors. We then compare the two descriptions and evaluate the similarities and the differences between them, with an eye toward making the second participant “feel” through haptic output something as similar as possible to what the first participant is feeling through direct touch.