Putting "Feel" into "Look and Feel": Interaction with the Sense of Touch

Margaret Minsky, Interval

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University
October 1, 1993


The environments that we build for human-computer and computer mediated human-human interaction should be enhanced so that they give the best sense of presence. We can help this project with interfaces to the least well explored of the senses, the sense of touch.

In this talk, I discuss the enterprise of creating "touch displays" by creating computational models of objects, computing their physical interactions with our fingers, hands, or a pointing tool, and "displaying" the results as forces that we can feel. I will survey recent work on creating vivid sensations of touch and feel, showing examples from several research groups around the world.

Material properties such as texture, stickiness, and hardness are a new area of emphasis for computational haptic (touch) research. I will discuss a system, Sandpaper ,that provides a testbed for research on human perception of these aspects of touch Our experiments bear on the role of touch interfaces in applications such as consumer product prototyping, surgical training, and entertainment.


Margaret Minsky is a Member of the Research Staff at Interval Research Corporation and a doctoral candidate at the MIT Media Lab. She has been involved in research and development at MIT; has led research at Atari Cambridge Laboratory; and was recently a visiting scholar at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She is the author of several papers in the area of gesture and touch in human-computer interaction.


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