Colloquium on Haptics with Invited Talks by Karon MacLean (UBC) and Christian Holz (MSR)

We are pleased to announce two invited talks on haptics: Friday, May 25, 2018, 10:15-11:45am, MPI for Informatics (E1.4), Room 019.

Karon MacLean (University of British Columbia): Taking Haptic Design from Research to Practice
Christian Holz (Microsoft Research): Rich Haptic Shape Output Controllers for Virtual Reality

Taking Haptic Design from Research to Practice

Today’s advances in tactile sensing, wearable, situated and context-aware computing and robotics are spurring new ideas about how to configure touch-centered interactions in terms of roles and utility, which in turn expose new technical and social design questions. But while haptic actuation and sensing technology is improving, incorporating them into a real-world design process still brings many challenges. In this talk I’ll focus on how my group has approached research both into viable roles and design languages for physical communication, and of what is needed to support their design.

I’ll explore this in the context of several examples, such as translating users’ cognitive frameworks for processing tactile signals into guidelines and tools to create learnable message vocabularies; exploiting low-cost, stretchy touch sensors and machine learning touch recognition to raise the ‘emotional intelligence’ of social human-robot interaction through bidirectional communication; and how such sensing and simple outputs can transform other interactions that are situated in the physical world rather than on a traditional computing device.

Karon MacLean is Professor in Computer Science at UBC, with degrees in Biology and Mechanical Engineering (BSc, Stanford; M.Sc. / Ph.D, MIT) and industry experience in robotics and interaction design. She leads UBC’s Designing for People interdisciplinary research cluster and CREATE graduate training program, and is Special Advisor, Knowledge Mobilization to the Faculty of Science. Her research interests are in the design of situated haptic and multimodal interfaces, and affective, therapeutic human-robotic interaction.

Rich Haptic Shape Output Controllers for Virtual Reality

The recent resurgence of virtual reality has made VR systems mainstream. With the advances in tracking and input sensing, many compelling VR applications have emerged, from video games to productivity scenarios involving virtual objects. These advances have shown the clear need for haptic solutions that offer more than the simple buzzing and rumbling current controllers provide.

In this talk, I present an investigation of mechanically-actuated hand-held controllers that render the shape of virtual objects through physical shape displacement, enabling users to feel 3D surfaces, textures, and forces that match the visual rendering. All controllers create a haptic impression of much larger 3D shapes as users move them around by cognitively integrating output sensations over time. I will demonstrate five types of controllers that explore spatially-registered haptic feedback, from rendering surfaces through shape output for grasp and trigger feedback to rendering textures in the form of surface structure and shear during interaction. I will also present a series of dynamic stiffness linkages between two controllers to support bimanual tool use in VR, such as steering wheels or music instruments. Finally, I will touch on the insights of our evaluations and conclude with the challenges haptic controllers face before they, too, can become mainstream.

Christian Holz is a researcher at Microsoft Research in Redmond. Christian’s research explores the intersection of continuous physiological sensing, ubiquitous computing, and virtual & augmented reality, integrating novel hardware prototypes with immersive software systems to explore future interactive systems. Before joining Microsoft Research, Christian was a research scientist at Yahoo Labs. Christian received his PhD in Computer Science from Hasso Plattner Institute at University of Potsdam, Germany. More info:
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