Remote Haptics and Mid-Air Gestures


Interaction with mobile devices, including phones and wearables, is often limited by their small screens. A limited amount of space is available for displaying content and giving users feedback about their interactions, which can make introducing new interaction modalities difficult. Novel interactions, such as speech and in-air gestures, require good feedback but mobile devices are unable to give this feedback. We can overcome this problem by using alternative types of feedback, instead. For example, tactile feedback can be given about interactions with mobile phones, keeping the limited screen space available for showing other content.

In-air gesture interaction is a novel way of interacting with mobile phones and recent products have been released with these capabilities. However, limited feedback is given about these interactions, which makes them difficult to use. We investigated ways of giving tactile feedback about in-air gestures, which means feedback can be given without affecting on-screen content. This project was a three-year PhD studentship partly funded by Nokia Research Centre in Finland.


We investigated tactile feedback for in-air gesture interfaces. Giving such feedback is challenging for one obvious reason: users do not physically contact in-air gesture systems, meaning novel solutions are required to present tactile sensations. In this project we compared ultrasound haptics (see UltraHaptics) to tactile feedback from wearable devices, like smart-watches and activity trackers. We also investigated feedback design, to see how the complexity of feedback affected interaction. For more information see here or our ICMI 2014 paper on tactile feedback for above-device interfaces [1].


[1] E. Freeman, S. Brewster, and V. Lantz: Tactile Feedback for Above-Device Gesture Interfaces: Adding Touch to Touchless Interactions . In Proceedings of icmi ’14 (2014).
author = {Freeman, Euan and Brewster, Stephen and Lantz, Vuokko},
booktitle = {Proceedings of ICMI '14},
publisher = {ACM Press},
title = {{Tactile Feedback for Above-Device Gesture Interfaces: Adding Touch to Touchless Interactions}},
url = {\_2014.pdf},
year = {2014}