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Drs. Gijs Huisman

In my PhD work I focus on mediated social touch and emotions. I am also a research associate at SusaGroup, where I give advice on user experience research and measuring emotions.

My PhD research revolves around the questions “How can we enable people to engage in physical contact over a distance, and how does that influence people’s emotions?” and around social touch technology, and the potential in which social touch may be mediated by haptic feedback technology, or simulated by a virtual agent, to produce effects similar to social touch occurring in co-located space.From a vast body of literature on the psychology and physiology of touch we know that physical contact is very important for human beings, for instance for an infants socio-cognitive development, and the maintenance of social bonds. Yet in our technology mediated communication this important modality is largely missing. In my research I investigate whether the emotional effects of touch also occur when someone is touched over a distance. This involves creating prototypes that allow two people to communicate a touch over a distance through sensors and actuators. My main interest is to use these prototypes in experiments on the impact mediated social touch can have on people’s emotional state. My hope is that this will aid in making mediated communication more like communication as it occurs between people in the same room.

Prior to my PhD position, I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science, and a cum laude Master’s degree in Communication Studies: New Media, Research, and Design,  both at the University of Twente. During this time I was involved in the creation of the LEMtool, an interactive tool to measure emotions in visual interfaces.

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