Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

Full citation: 
Smith, J., MacLean, K. E. (2007). "Communicating Emotion Through a Haptic Link: Design Space and Methodology." International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS), Special Issue on Affective Evaluation--Innovative Approaches, vol. 65, no. 4, pages 376-387, April 2007.
Communication of affect across a distance is not well supported by current technology, despite its importance to interpersonal interaction in modern lifestyles. Touch is a powerful conduit for emotional connectedness, and thus mediating haptic (touch) displays have been proposed to address this deficiency; but suitable evaluative methodology has been elusive. In this paper, we offer a first, structured examination of a design space for haptic support of remote affective communication, by analyzing the space and then comparing haptic models designed to manipulate its key dimensions. In our study, dyads (intimate pairs or strangers) are asked to communicate specified emotions using a purely haptic link that consists of virtual models rendered on simple knobs. These models instantiate both interaction metaphors of varying intimacy, and representations of virtual interpersonal distance. Our integrated objective and subjective observations imply that emotion can indeed be communicated through this medium, and confirm that the factors examined influence emotion communication performance as well as preference, comfort and connectedness. The proposed design space and the study results have implications for future efforts to support affective communication using the haptic modality, and the study approach comprises a first model for systematic evaluation of haptically expressed affect.
SPIN Authors: 
Year Published: