CumInCAD is a Cumulative Index about publications in Computer Aided Architectural Design
supported by the sibling associations ACADIA, CAADRIA, eCAADe, SIGraDi, ASCAAD and CAAD futures

id cf2011_p115
authors Pohl, Ingrid; Hirschberg Urs
year 2011
title Sensitive Voxel - A reactive tangible surface
source Computer Aided Architectural Design Futures 2011 [Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computer Aided Architectural Design Futures / ISBN 9782874561429] Liege (Belgium) 4-8 July 2011, pp. 525-538.
summary Haptic and tactile sensations, the active or passive exploration of our built surroundings through our sense of touch, give us a direct feeling and detailed information of space, a sense of architecture (Pallasmaa 2005). This paper presents the prototype of a reactive surface system, which focuses its output on the sense of touch. It explains how touch sensations influence the perception of architecture and discusses potential applications that might arise from such systems in the future. A growing number of projects demonstrate the strong impact of interaction design on the human senses and perception. They offer new ways of sensing and experiencing architectural space. But the majority of these interaction concepts focus on visual and auditory output-effects. The sense of touch is typically used as an input generator, but neglected as as a potential receiver of stimuli. With all the possibilities of sensors and micro-devices available nowadays, there is no longer a technical reason for this. It is possible to explore a much wider range of sense responding projects, to broaden the horizon of sensitive interaction concepts (Bullivant 2006). What if the surfaces of our surroundings can actively change the way it feels to touch them? What if things like walls and furniture get the ability to interactively respond to our touch? What new dimensions of communication and esthetic experience will open up when we conceive of tangibility in this bi-directional way? This paper presents a prototype system aimed at exploring these very questions. The prototype consists of a grid of tangible embedded cells, each one combining three kinds of actuators to produce divergent touch stimuli. All cells can be individually controlled from an interactive computer program. By providing a layering of different combinations and impulse intensities, the grid structure enables altering patterns of actuation. Thus it can be employed to explore a sort of individual touch aesthetic, for which - in order to differentiate it from established types of aesthetic experiences - we have created the term 'Euhaptics' (from the Greek = good and Ĝќ = touch, finger). The possibility to mix a wide range of actuators leads to blending options of touch stimuli. The sense of touch has an expanded perception- spectrum, which can be exploited by this technically embedded superposition. The juxtaposed arrangement of identical multilayered cell-units offers blending and pattern effects of different touch-stimuli. It reveals an augmented form of interaction with surfaces and interactive material structures. The combination of impulses does not need to be fixed a priori; it can be adjusted during the process of use. Thus the sensation of touch can be made personally unique in its qualities. The application on architectural shapes and surfaces allows the user to feel the sensations in a holistic manner potentially on the entire body. Hence the various dimensions of touch phenomena on the skin can be explored through empirical investigations by the prototype construction. The prototype system presented in the paper is limited in size and resolution, but its functionality suggests various directions of further development. In architectural applications, this new form of overlay may lead to create augmented environments that let inhabitants experience multimodal touch sensations. By interactively controlling the sensual patterns, such environments could get a unique touch for every person that inhabit them. But there may be further applications that go beyond the interactive configuration of comfort, possibly opening up new forms of communication for handicapped people or applications in medical and therapeutic fields (Grunwald 2001). The well-known influence of touch- sensations on human psychological processes and moreover their bodily implications suggest that there is a wide scope of beneficial utilisations yet to be investigated.
keywords Sensitive Voxel- A reactive tangible surface
series CAAD Futures
email inge@sbox.tugraz.at
full text file.pdf (30,564,417 bytes)
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