Stereohaptics: A Haptic Interaction Toolkit for Tangible Virtual Experiences
July 2016 | Publications, UX
There are no design tools that support haptic designers to produce creative content for a given media.
To create a toolkit that assists haptic designers to quickly prototype haptic experiences for videos, games, and other media content.
Stereohaptics was originally born as a framework that enables haptic designers to quickly create, record, and playback haptic effects for media content. The concept is simple. Designers can use regular audio input tools, such as a microphone, to record haptic signals. Then using a commercial-available software, PureData, designers can modify how signals feel. Overtime, Stereohaptics evolved to a complete toolkit that can play haptic signals on different haptic output devices, e.g., vibrotactile and electric muscle stimulators, recorded using various input devices, e.g., microphones and accelerometers. We had the fortune to host a series of 5 design workshops all over the world. In this process, we improved our hardware design to accommodate different design needs and processes.
The purpose of the design workshops was to observe how Stereohaptics toolkit is used by real designers. It also provides us with an opportunity to collect feedback for further improvements. The workshops ranged from 2 to 6 hours long. At the end of the workshops, participants form groups to design and implement a use scenario with Stereohaptics. We saw so many creative ideas and below is a small selection of them.
Case 1: Arm and leg coordination is critical in rowing practice. This group used Stereohaptics on their legs to deliver up and down motion cues so that users know when to move their legs while pulling the oar.
Case 2: How would music feel on one’s feet? This group tried out this crazily fun idea.
Case 3: This group designed a haptic feedback system for shopping carts so that visually impaired individuals can maneuver their way between narrow isles. To enact the environment, they also used small tables and masking tape.
A survey was sent out to participants after each workshop. Many participants had a very positive experience at the workshop and expressed further interest in working with our toolkit. We also collected recommendations to improve our future sessions, many of which were related to wanting more hands-on time with the toolkit.
Generation 1. SIGGRAPH’15
The first generation was produced for a SIGGRAPH demo. Since only one pair was needed, we put in a lot of effort in making it comfortable while accommodating all hand sizes, from kids’ to adults’.
Generation 2. TEI’16
With SIGGRAPH’s success, we held our first design workshop. As part of the workshop material, our “gloves” had to be easier to reproduce and cheaper to make, compared to the first generation. Therefore, we decided on a 3D printed design with velcro straps to provide unconstrained design possibilities for workshop participants.
Generation 3. SIGGRAPH’16 (Final)
Inspired by our design workshop, we no longer limited the form factor to be just gloves and explored a wide variety of haptic output devices, from chair seats to flat surfaces.