Dawson, J., Schneider, O., Ferstay, J., Toker, D., Link, J., Haddad, S. and MacLean, K. E. “It’s Alive! Exploring the Concept of a Living Phone,” in Proc. of Graphics Interface, Regina CAN, pp. 205-212, 2013.
Recent technical developments with flexible display materials have diversified the possible forms of near-future handheld devices. We envision smartphones that will deploy these materials for physical, device-originated gestural display as expressive channels for user communication. Over several iterations, we designed both human-actuated and mechanized prototypes that animate the standard block-like smartphone form-factor with evocative life-like gestures. We present three basic prototypes developed through an exploratory study, and a medium fidelity prototype developed in a second study, which enact a combination of visual and haptic gestural displays including breathing, curling, crawling, ears, and vibration. Through two evaluations we find that (a) users are receptive to the use of gestural displays to enrich their communications; and (b) smartphone-embodied gestural displays are capable of expressing both common notifications (e.g., incoming calls) and emotional content through the dimensions of arousal and, to a small extent, valence. Finally, we conclude with several guidelines for the design of gestural mobile devices.