Shape-Changing Materials for HCI
Proposal’s context, positioning and objective(s)
Objectives and research hypothesis
This project is at the crossroad of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and the physics of programmable soft materials, with a connection to the world of interactive arts. Its objective is to enrich user experience with the sense of touch through new tactile shape-changing interfaces, both for enabling new interactions and for conveying emotions.
While touch has some unique characteristics, this modality has been less studied in HCI than the visual and audio modalities. As an output modality, touch can serve to guide or inform the user or convey information discreetly through cutaneous and kinesthetic feedback [Pohl17]. It can also convey affective states [Her09], increase the sense of social presence or induce more powerful physical connection [Yohanan12]. However, current output technologies for simulating touch are limited and unable to express the richness of human touch [vanErp15]. Similarly, while touching is the primary way for interacting with devices, most input technologies only capture a part of what human touch can express.
The primary goal of this project is to reduce these limitations by improving the input and output capabilities of touch devices. It relies on the “second skin” concept, which is the idea that users and objects can wear a skin-like input/output device. This second skin will enable novel ways of interacting and/or conveying emotional information by leveraging a new kind of shape-morphing materials called « baromorphs ». Recently introduced by one of the project partners (PMMH), baromorphs [Siefert19] are bio-inspired inflatable elastomeric surfaces capable of changing their shape (see Figure 1). They offer new opportunities for HCI and will become our base material for creating interactive second skins, once improved and augmented with input/output capabilities.