thesis statement and abstract

// statement // // aisthetika – things that we perceive through the senses //

What if we utilized our sense of touch to interpret the flow of data? From braille to sensory substitution, research and experiments have already shown that touch can be an effective tool for data interpretation. This project builds on the potential of tactile interfaces exploring the ability of kinetic, pattern-based haptic feedback to offer a means to interpret and manipulate data. Aisthetika is focused within a home, a site that produces vast amounts of data in constant flux: health status, environmental indicators, and intangible data such as human behavior, emotions and well-being. The home also allows users to utilize, as tactile interfaces, objects and surfaces which we interact with on a daily basis, such as door-knobs, tables, and handles.




// abstract thus far // // project untitled //

As we increasingly work to enhance the visual realm through augmentation and virtualization, we risk a further alienation from our innate ability to understand our external environment from a tactile perspective. Touch is often understood as one of our most sensitive modalities. As children we use touch to explore and engage our environment. Without touch we would not gain the proper experiences for growth and maturity. Yet, we do not necessarily carry this essential tactile method of learning and experiencing with our environments into the later stages of life.

I have investigated, through recent projects, working with tangibility on digital surfaces (i.e., tangible user interfaces and graspable user interfaces). It is through these projects that I found an interest in the connection between the physical and digital realms. In general, we are limited to the basic interaction of the keyboard to the screen. The flow of data is sent and manipulated in these various tasks, e.g., using a remote, sending emails, checking the stock reports, or controlling the workflow and processes of a manufacturing plant. Even with the touch screen technologies found in consumer or industrial devices, our capabilities are restricted to the same type of interaction. It seems the dominant senses for these types of activities are geared toward audio and visual modalities. We may in fact be overlooking our intuitive ability to more fully experience our objects and environments through tactile interactions.

Controlling data flow through the manipulation of tangible objects may help us to more effectively execute tasks, and also may enhance the quality of the user experience in extraordinary ways.What practical results can be achieved from facilitating such tactile interactions with our objects and our environments? To answer this question, my thesis proposes to investigate how we may control and manipulate the flow of data through tactile and physical modalities. By exploring the depth of our sense of touch, I aim to discover new expressions of haptic language through the manipulation of physical forms in objects.

My project is embedded in real space, interweaving the material realm and the user experience with the implied interaction. How can the manipulation of physical forms in objects encourage new user experiences on an individual and social level? Who can benefit from such objects, and how can the unique needs of different users be addressed (i.e. “fully-abled” vs. “non-fully abled” users)? This method of tangible interaction explores human tactile limitations and restrictions, and perhaps most importantly, the potential to more intimately connect individuals with each other and their environments.

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