Exploring Tactile Interface Aesthetics through Computational Media Design

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The tactile qualities of technology are often neglected by interaction designers who favour digital functionality, even though materiality plays a huge role in defining humans’ surroundings. Multiple benefits emerge from tactile interfaces and this thesis concentrates on three of them: 1. tactile interfaces can communicate visual, emotional, or sensorial information when visual and hearing senses are already overloaded with information; 2. they can guide users’ mobility through an environment, such as using hands to assist in walking through a dark room; and, 3. they can benefit computer-based applications for visually-impaired people. I focus on three themes – materiality, physical computing, and human touch behaviour – which I investigate through a collaborative project with four other design students. I conduct experime nts to explore three ways of using different tactile materials to create (computationally) interactive tactile interfaces (for example, Conductive Silicone, Touch-Sound Synthesizers, Reactive Chair). This led to two final installations, the first (“Tactile Room”) focusing on how to create tactile cues to guide the people through a non-visual interactive layer of the space, and the second (“Growth”) oriented to designing tactile cues to invite the people to interact with the interactive system. This Research through Design approach enables me to demonstrate how tactile interactivity enhances engagement with digital information. This research expands designers’ range of materials and fabrication techniques, including the elements of physical computing, to prototype new tactile interfaces.
Tactile Interfaces, Human Computer Interaction, Computational Media Design, Tactility
Kuzabaviciute, G. (2019). Exploring Tactile Interface Aesthetics through Computational Media Design (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.