Development of haptic communication processes between human and machine


This research focuses on the relationship between enabling technologies and the human body. Technology miniaturization and its increased use in environments raises questions about its integration capability with the body and its behaviours. The problematic research context concerns wearable devices and the design of solutions to solve novel needs or enhance human senses. Scientific literature and case studies describe human foot as an effective platform for experimenting with haptic interfaces for human/machine communication, capable of connecting the body with site-specific data. The foot, a dual and symmetrical motor element, has a high perceptive quality and is morphologically suitable for emerging technologies application. Its border position, between space and body, allows stimuli collection from both areas. Bibliography indicates how pressure, compared to vibration, is preferable in haptic communication since it is a natural component of the body's relational languages. Finally, the multidisciplinary analysis reveals the opportunity of developing rhythm as a structural component of messages.

The relational links between rhythm, body and human behaviour are evident in some mechanisms: rhythmic entrainment, rhythmic mimesis, synchrony. The relationship between foot, pressure and rhythm becomes an affordance of the space, capable of suggesting, emphasising or activating behaviours. The podotactile rhythm is presented here as a union of these elements. In this thesis it is described through the characteristics, the fields and actions application and the data collection from the tests carried out using the build prototypes. The quantitative and qualitative analyses of the movement and emotion reading data show how the use of a haptic rhythmic language in the foot expresses high potential for integration with the body while respecting comfort and attentive balance in pre-existing action flows. The results open reflections on several new design application in museum, working and urban contexts.



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Impact case study

Institution details

Department of Architecture

Interaction design