WEARABLE TACTUAL COMMUNICATORS: DESIGNING PRODUCTS WITH TECHNOLOGY-MEDIATED TOUCH
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Sener, Bahar; Pedgley, Owain
Institution: Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Section: Research in Design and Engineering Education Practice
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.79
In some situations, it is not possible or desirable for communications to take place through voice- or screen-based interaction. People may want to act discreetly around other people; it may not be physically possible to interact with a display-based product; or it may be inappropriate or ineffective to talk out loud. Furthermore, in challenging circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic, social touch has been diminished and discouraged. In these cases, alternative means of communication can be made through use of technologies that mediate touch. This paper reports on an 8-week graduate industrial design project that required students to explore the sense of touch in the context of person-to-person communication. The aim was for students to learn how a product interface can extend beyond conventional visual and audible modalities, through the relatively under-discussed and under-applied possibilities of touch sensations. Students researched and designed in pairs to generate concepts for communication scenarios that they foresaw would benefit from technology-mediated touch. The result was eight diverse scenario and product solutions, some focused on the communication of instructions, whilst others evoked meanings through different passive touch sensations. The student learning was demonstrated through the diversity in outcomes, proposing unconventional forms of interaction where touch is the primary modality, rather than vision or sound. Aside from pedagogical gains, the study empowered students to showcase promising uses of technology-mediated touch in product design.