This research focuses on an interface that allows you to ‘see’ feeling.
We discover that ‘seeing through the skin’ is a whole new sensory experience. Artists find this an interesting fact, but do not have access to the technology necessary to achieve such an experience. After delivering a ‘sensory toolkit’, the focus shifted to everyday applications of tactile vision and their long-term effects.
The project started as a collaboration with artist Carsten Höller and was inspired by the 1970s experiments of the American neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Rita in which the image from a camera mounted on glasses was converted, via a belt, into stimuli on the abdominal wall.
In its inception, the main aim of this research was to develop a toolkit to open up these particular means of working with sensory experiences for artists. The experiments demonstrate that creating a rudimentary ‘sense’ of your environment through tactile stimuli can be achieved with relative ease. Using the developed interface, it’s possible to ‘see’ obstacles such as pillars and doorways through your skin. The research initially focused on developing a more nuanced experience, because the signal is binary (on/off). This nuance has been introduced in a new variant of the equipment developed by Antal (working with vibration), through which it is possible to ‘see’ in grey tones.
The design iterations in the first two years of research were aimed at offering the interface in such a modular and flexible way that the interface would have as little influence as possible in the artist’s thought processes while using the tool. This research phase resulted in a successful prototype of the toolkit, and a conference paper at the end of 2017.
In the third year (2018/2019), the focus of our research shifted to the possibilities of tactile vision for everyday applications and the long-term effects of using tactile vision interfaces.
In the fourth year of research, exploratory studies were conducted into new interfaces. Experiments were carried out with a tongue interface, for example, and some studies were done (also in collaboration with CMD students) with newly developed, stand-alone wearable interfaces that make distance tangible in different places on the body. During the Caradt Studium Generale 2019, a study was conducted into the effects of different forms of interaction in the completion of a task.
In addition, within the Research in Adaptivity course, 60 students from CMD Den Bosch worked on various research questions on the perception of information that cannot be perceived in normative terms. Students also experimented with self-made interfaces, building on components of the interfaces developed by Antal, in order to explore their own research questions, developed together with Antal, by means of an analysis of collected data.
In the fifth year of research, a study will be conducted into the effects of using symbolic rendering in contrast with ‘direct’ rendering of sound in tactile stimulation. For this research, a new partnership with Tilburg University will be further developed, initiating a collaborative project. The first study takes place in a controlled lab environment, in order to be able to thoroughly isolate the effects. The research can then be continued in ‘situated’ form, for example by using the interface for a longer period of time in ‘real life’ situations.
Ongoing research, started in November 2016.
Other researcher involved
Michel van Dartel
Avans University of Applied Sciences
SIA KIEM project Sensory Augmentation (2018)
STRP Festival Eindhoven
V2_Lab for the Unstable Media
Avans University of Applied Sciences