Touch Interfaces: from Information Transfer to Feeling Good
27th February 2013, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
PCRI, Salle 455 (how to get there ?)
It's commonly said that touch is an under-utilized sense in modern computer interfaces; ironically, this impoverishment has entered the public discourse as a result of the ubiquity of so-called "touch" interfaces that are visually delightfully but deliver at most an irritating buzz to the touch sense. In this talk I'll give some background on human touch, a sense of the variety of emergent tactile display technology, a sampling of research regarding the kind and amounts of information that we've found can be transmitted through the skin, and some examples of my current favorite topic: what do people *like* to touch, and how does one study this?
Karon MacLean (Professor in Computer Science, UBC) started out pre-med at Stanford, picked up engineering (to build things) and proceeded to MIT for a Master's and PhD in Mech. This was interleaved with stints as an engineer doing MEMS and anthropomorphic robotics, and later in a Silicon Valley thinktank where she received some much-needed anti-arts deconditioning. At some point she noticed that large complicated robots tended to (a) not work much of the time and (b) require their tenders and eventual users to spend their time glued to a desk which was not where she wanted to be. She therefore developed an interest in small, simple robots that display virtual models to people (now called haptics), can be put anywhere including your pocket, and do not require a supercomputer to model. She has been at UBC Computer Science since 2000 where her group unites robotics with psychology and interaction design with the goal of mass deployment of communicative and calm haptic interaction.