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Tactile Interfaces

Research Group: Situated Art and Design

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. 

Fotograaf

Process 

The project started as a collaboration with artist Carsten Höller and was inspired by the 1970s experiments of the American neuroscientist Paul Bach-y-Ritaarrow 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, its 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 artists 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.

Principle researcher
Antal Ruhl

Other researcher involved
Michel Witter 

Professor
Michel van Dartel

Funding
Avans University of Applied Sciences
SIA KIEM project Sensory Augmentation (2018) 

Collaborators
Tilburg University
STRP Festival Eindhoven
V2_Lab for the Unstable Media 

Institute  
Avans University of Applied Sciences

‘Through an interplay of design and research, the apt questions and necessary tools can be discovered and applied to each research project.’

Antal Ruhl is a researcher within the Situated Art and Design research group and a tutor at the Communication & Multimedia Design programme at Avans University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch. 

Antal Ruhl arrow

Publications

de Rooij, A., van Dartel, M., Ruhl, A., Schraffenberger, H., van Melick, B., Bontje, M., Daams, M., and Witter, M. (2017), Sensory Augmentation Interfaces: A Dialogue between the Arts and Sciences, arrowIn A. Brooks, Brooks, E. & Vidakis, N. (Eds.) Lecture Notes of the Institute for Computer Sciences, Social Informatics and Telecommunications Engineering (LNICST): Interactivity, Game Creation, Design, Learning, and Innovation. Springer: Berlin.

Ruhl, A., de Rooij, A., van Dartel, M. (2017), The Artistic Potential of Tactile Vision Interfaces: A First Lookarrow, In Proceedings of the ACM Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction TEI’18.

Ruhl, A., de Rooij, A., van Dartel, M. (2018) The Artistic Potential of Tactile Vision Interfaces: A First Look. In Proceedings of the ACM Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction TEI’18. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 73-79. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3173225.3173271arrow (Best Work in Progress)

Research Group: Situated Art and Design

Living in cities developed around data and acting within the inscrutable structure of our techno-society demands art and design that can help understand how we relate to these rapidly changing surroundings and to reflect on that relationship. The research group Situated Art and Design responds to this exigency by fostering a situated turn in art and design through a diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary research projects in partnership with academic and cultural partners, as well as with government and industry.

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