When we say haptics, we might be referring to human haptics: perceptually, what we feel through our skin (tactility), how we experience force, pressure and weight (kinaesthesia), and know where our body is in space (proprioception). We also often call haptics our one “bidirectional sense” because it is inextricably linked with action and musculoskeletal control - how we interact with the world, whether by pouring water from a pitcher into a glass, typing on a keyboard, or using a gestural game controller.
While we perceive it in a unified way, this “sense” is really a complex coordination of many types of mechanoreceptors in our skin, muscles and even including our inner ear. It is a crucial component of functional, social and affective communication; and most fundamentally, central to our embodied sense of self and how we experience emotion.
Machine haptics refers to the rich variety of technology (devices, control algorithms, materials and more) through which computed constructs can be displayed for us to feel, interact with, and manipulate a virtual or remote environment. For a sample of devices, see haptipedia.org.
Finally, connecting these two is haptic interaction design (HaXD): the science and art of connecting perception and technology in the service of an application.
This course aims to provide you with enough knowledge of human and machine haptics and basic HaXD knowledge to qualify as a novice haptic interaction designer.
CanHap501 is a graduate-level introduction to the inception, creation and evaluation of haptic and multimodal human-computer interfaces. It covers perceptual and attentional foundations, and emphasizes control and/or display of computed sensations and environments through haptic devices to user's sense of touch for the purpose of haptic communication -- for example, signalling, social and affective touch, and sharing of control between human and a smart system.
Format: CanHap501is delivered fully online in Canadian timezones, with a centerpiece team project carried out by cross-institutional teams. The course consists of lectures, assignments and labs, reading and discussion of current literature; culminating in a team project. Labs and projects employ a haptic force-feedback device made available to enrolled students for use at home or their local lab.
The primary focus of the project is on creative crafting of the interaction design to suit the targeted application; its focus will be loosely based on a 2017 student innovation challenge sponsored by two of the instructors, described in Seifi et al 2019.
Multi-institution delivery and student eligibility: In 2020W2, this course is being taught jointly by a team of instructors from CanHaptics, a network of haptics researchers across Canada. To take part, please contact a member off the instructor team. Priority is given to students at participating institutions for a limited number of seats, generally those planning to conduct research with the instructors.
History: CanHap501 is derived from UBC (MacLean's) CPSC 543; which in turn owes much to Camille Mousette's Simple Haptics methodology. Important modifications include the multi-instructor cast with extra modules featuring their expertise; a project now based on the Montreal-based Haply haptic device, designed for collaboration by remote teams, and a fully virtual but substantively synchronous course delivery administered on platforms chosen for multi-institution access, FIPPA compliance as well as functionality and usability.