One of the drawbacks of our increasingly digital lifestyle is a level of disconnectedness. Of course we can communicate via email and show our emotions like this or THIS!!! (screaming)!
There are for instance little possibilities to digitally touch someone. But why would we want to?
Touching can be a very good way of communication with research showing for instance that when a waitress touches a customer’s arm it increases the chance of a tip! Apart from that, touching someone is also a very personal way to communicate and to (literally) get in touch.
Now we can even touch someone digitally!
Gijs Huisman, a PhD candidate at Universiteit Twente and Aduen Darriba Frederiks from Hogeschool van Amsterdam are working on something called TaSST, in essence a device that simulates human touch and transfers it over the internet to a person anywhere on the planet.
How does this work?
So how does this work? We can digitize books for sure, but touch?The key technology to making this device is something that many of us are very familiar with: the little vibration motors that we find in our mobile phones. When you layout those motors in a 3 by 4 grid, each square being 40mm long and wide, you get a large surface for instance on your arm that is being used to sense the ‘touch’ and to receive the ‘touch’ on the other side.
When you for instance press, poke, hit or stroke the TaSST sleeve, the duration, impact and area is recognized by the sender’s sleeve. It is translated into a signal (or better still: a pattern) and is sent to the receiver and that will let the vibration motors his or her sleeve run for a specific amount of time with a specific speed (and there for vibration in a specific area).
This creates the ‘touch’ sensation.
You might think when you read this that this sounds weird. Surely everyone will see through this and not appreciate it, it’s just a bunch of sensors and motors.
But our mind is very flexible and sometimes works in unexpected ways. Just like the phenomenon that people attribute human characteristics to virtual agents, research has shown that a system like TaSST can actually be beneficial in a number of settings like virtual storytelling, video chat conversations and perhaps even areas like gaming or ambient assisted living (ICT aiding elderly people living longer independently).
The research in the TaSST device is still early stages work and a second prototype is being developed right now but sounds promising.
If you think you see an application for a device like TaSST, please contact the people below.
COMMIT/project: VIEWW (Virtual worlds for well-being)
Ook dit is een COMMIT/project