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  1. Touch as a modality in social communication has been getting more attention with recent developments in wearable technology and an increase in awareness of how limited physical contact can lead to touch starvation and feelings of depression. Although several mediated touch methods have been developed for conveying emotional support, the transfer of emotion through mediated touch has not been widely studied. This work addresses this need by exploring emotional communication through a novel wearable haptic system. The system records physical touch patterns through an array of force sensors, processes the recordings using novel gesture-based algorithms to create actuator control signals, and generates mediated social touch through an array of voice coil actuators. We conducted a human subject study ( N = 20) to understand the perception and emotional components of this mediated social touch for common social touch gestures, including poking, patting, massaging, squeezing, and stroking. Our results show that the speed of the virtual gesture significantly alters the participants' ratings of valence, arousal, realism, and comfort of these gestures with increased speed producing negative emotions and decreased realism. The findings from the study will allow us to better recognize generic patterns from human mediated touch perception and determine howmore »mediated social touch can be used to convey emotion. Our system design, signal processing methods, and results can provide guidance in future mediated social touch design.« less
  2. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, social distancing has been a necessary and effective means of reducing disease through decreased close human contact. However, there has been a corresponding increase in touch starvation due to limited physical contact. Our research seeks to create a solution for allowing individuals to safely communicate through touch over a distance. Our system consists of wearable sensors to measure the social touch gesture, which is then processed and sent to an array of voice coils in an actuator device.
  3. Resonant frequency skin stretch uses cyclic lateral skin stretches matching the skin’s resonant frequency to create highly noticeable stimuli, signifying a new approach for wearable haptic stimulation. Four experiments were performed to explore biomechanical and perceptual aspects of resonant frequency skin stretch. In the first experiment, effective skin resonant frequencies were quantified at the forearm, shank, and foot. In the second experiment, perceived haptic stimuli were characterized for skin stretch actuations across a spectrum of frequencies. In the third experiment, perceived haptic stimuli were characterized for different actuator masses. In the fourth experiment, haptic classification ability was determined as subjects differentiated haptic stimulation cues while sitting, walking, and jogging. Results showed that subjects perceived stimulations at, above, and below the skin’s resonant frequency differently: stimulations lower than the skin resonant frequency felt like distinct impacts, stimulations at the skin resonant frequency felt like cyclic skin stretches, and stimulations higher than the skin resonant frequency felt like standard vibrations. Subjects successfully classified stimulations while sitting, walking, and jogging, perceived haptic stimuli was affected by actuator mass, and classification accuracy decreased with increasing speed, especially for stimulations at the shank. This work could facilitate more widespread use of wearable skin stretch. Potentialmore »applications include gaming, medical simulation, and surgical augmentation, and for training to reduce injury risk or improve sports performance.« less
  4. Emotion regulation in the wild (ER-in-the-wild) is an important grand challenge problem of increasing focus, and is hard to approach effectively with point solutions. We provide HCI researchers and designers thinking about ER- in-the-wild with an ER-in-the-wild system architecture derived from mHealth, the Emotion Regulation Process Model (PM), and a circular biofeedback model that can be used when designing an ER system. Our work is based on literature reviews of and collaborations with experts from the domains of wearables, emotion regulation, haptics and biofeedback (WEHAB) as well as systems. In addition to providing a generic model for ER-in-the-Wild, the system architecture presented in this paper explains different kinds of emotion regulatory interventions and their characteristics.