CHS: Small: Connecting Across Distances: Remote Tactile Communication
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This project will expand the methodologies and applications for computer-based haptics, by investigating how remote tactile communication, functioning in partnership with other contextual channels like speech, may facilitate supportive discourse for at-risk individuals. The research enhances infrastructure for research and education by building a testbed to study a heretofore unexplored mode of computer-assisted perception between people. It will advance science while promoting teaching, training, and learning by providing unique cross-disciplinary educational and learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Potentially, this new technology will facilitate greater partnership and emotional interaction among people, over long distances. This will help people understand the meaning of the other person''s communications, maintain valued relationships, and enhance each other''s well-being. It could usher in a new dimension in telecommunications that has significant economic potential.A hardware and software testbed will be developed to study this sub-space of human-computer interaction, including tactile modalities and parameters (e.g., compression, pattern, and onset dynamics) and the timing between a tactile stimulus and the accompanying contextualizing channel. Input and output devices will be developed through iterative design, and evaluated by means of: (1) usability and characterization studies; (2) in-laboratory affective communication studies including a one-way controlled study to assess affect conveyance and a dyadic communication study for the range of communication dynamics supported; (3) in vivo extended communication studies. One connection to general communication theory is the hypothesis that tactile interaction conveys affect immediately without interposing any explicitly coded symbolic message. More generally, this research will take an interdisciplinary approach that draws from and contributes to each participating discipline. Broad dissemination will enhance scientific and technological understanding through publication of results and insights in the journals and conferences of the various fields represented in the project. All software developed will be shared in open source form.