Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group

University of British Columbia

Full citation: 
Schneider, O., "Haptic Experience Design: Tools, Techniques, and Process.", PhD. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 2016.
Haptic technology, which engages the sense of touch, offers promising benefits for a variety of interactions including low-attention displays, emotionally-aware interfaces, and augmented media experiences. Despite an increasing presence of physical devices in commercial and research applications, there is still little support for the design of engaging haptic sensations. Previous literature has focused on the significant challenges of technological capabilities or physical realism rather than on supporting experience design. In this dissertation, we study how to design, build, and evaluate interactive software to support haptic experience design (HaXD). We define HaXD and itera- tively design three vibrotactile effect authoring tools, each a case study covering a different user population, vibrotactile device, and design challenge, and use them to observe specific aspects of HaXD with their target users. We make these in- depth findings more robust in two ways: generalizing results to a breadth of use cases with focused design projects, and grounding them with expert haptic design- ers through interviews and a workshop. Our findings 1) describe HaXD, including processes, strategies, and challenges; and 2) present guidelines on designing, build- ing, and evaluating interactive software that facillitates HaXD. When characterizing HaXD processes, strategies, and challenges, we show that experience design is already practiced with haptic technology, but faces unique considerations compared to other modalities. We identify four design activities that must be explicitly supported: sketching, refining, browsing, and sharing. We find and develop strategies to accommodate the wide variety of haptic devices. We articulate approaches for designing meaning with haptic experiences, and finally, highlight a need for supporting adaptable interfaces. When informing the design, implementation, and evaluation of HaXD tools, we discover critical features, including a need for improved online deployment and community support. We present steps to develop both existing and future research software into a mature suite of HaXD tools, and reflect upon evaluation methods. By characterizing HaXD and informing supportive tools, we make a first step towards establishing HaXD as its own field, akin to graphic and sound design.
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