Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

Full citation: 
Smith, J., "Communicating Emotion Through a Haptic Link: a study of the influence of metaphor, personal space and relationship", M.Sc. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 2005.
The world is more and more connected and yet we are often physically distant from people we care about. Technology increasingly supports remote interpersonal communication but has yet to integrate our sense of touch into this interaction. Researchers in the field of haptics (touch and technology) have started exploring computer-mediated touch interaction. The question is how should a computer-mediated person-to-person touch interaction be designed. In this thesis, we concentrate on how the design of a haptic interaction model influences performance and subjective experience of a dyad. Specifically, we examine the effect of using different metaphors to develop and explain the haptic interaction model, creating interaction models with and without a haptic display of personal space, and the type of relationship shared by the dyad using the device on ability to communicate emotion haptically. We also explore how dyads use these interactions to communicate emotion. We ran a structured study, in which participants communicated emotion with a haptic device and found that participants were able to communicate some emotional content through the haptic interactions. A significant effect of the interaction metaphor on performance was found. Participants preferred interactions with a haptic indicator of personal space, and participants' reported metaphor preferences depended on their relationship. Finally, we found that common actions were used to express each emotion, even though this is a new media unfamiliar to participants.
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