Enhancing Physicality in Touch Interaction with Programmable Friction

Vincent Lévesque, Louise Oram, Karon MacLean, Andy Cockburn, Nicolas D. Marchuk, Dan Johnson, J. Edward Colgate and Michael A. Peshkin
Proc. ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '11), Vancouver, Canada, May 2011.


Touch interactions have refreshed some of the 'glowing enthusiasm' of thirty years ago for direct manipulation interfaces. However, today's touch technologies, whose interactions are supported by graphics, sounds or crude clicks, have a tactile sameness and gaps in usability. We use a Large Area Tactile Pattern Display (LATPaD) to examine design possibilities and outcomes when touch interactions are enhanced with variable surface friction. In a series of four studies, we first confirm that variable friction gives significant performance advantages in low-level targeting activities. We then explore the design space of variable friction interface controls and assess user reactions. Most importantly, we demonstrate that variable friction can have a positive impact on the enjoyment, engagement and sense of realism experienced by users of touch interfaces.

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