Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

Full citation: 
Yohanan, S., Chan, M., Hopkins, J., Sun, H., and MacLean, K.E., “Hapticat: Exploration of Affective Touch,” in Proc. of 7th International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces (ICMI '05), Trento, Italy, pp. 244-251, 2005.
This paper describes the Hapticat, a device we developed to study affect through touch. Though intentionally not highly zoomorphic, the device borrows behaviors from pets and the rich manner in which they haptically communicate with humans. The Hapticat has four degrees of freedom to express itself: a pair of ear-like appendages, a breathing mechanism, a purring mechanism, and a warming element. Combinations of levels for these controls are used to define the five active haptic responses: playing dead, asleep, content, happy, and upset,. In the paper we present the design considerations and implementation details of the device. We also detail a preliminary observational study where participants interacted with the Hapticat through touch. To compare the effects of haptic feedback, the device presented either active haptic renderings or none at all. Participants reported which of the five responses they believed the Hapticat rendered, as well as their degree of affect to the device. We observed that participants' expectations of the device's response to various haptic stimuli correlated with our mappings. We also observed that participants were able to reasonably recognize three of the five response renderings, while having difficulty discriminating between happy and content states. Finally, we found that participants registered a broader range of affect when active haptic renderings were applied as compared to when none were presented.
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