For the past few months I’ve been working closely with Aduén Darriba Frederiks of the Hoge School van Amsterdam (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), on the design of the TaSST: Tactile Sleeve for Social Touch. The basic idea of the TaSST is that when two persons both wear a sleeve, a touch to the sleeve of one person is felt as a vibration on the sleeve of the other person. This way, the TaSST enables two people to touch each other over a distance. The TaSST will be used in experiments into the effects of mediated social touch.
We’ve gone through a few iterations of the TaSST design based on experimentation with materials, and user studies. What you see in the above images is the improved version of the TaSST (i.e. TaSST 1.5). Each of the twelve compartments in the input layer consists of felted pads of conductive wool. When these compartments are pressed, the conductivity of the wool changes. These changes in conductivity are used to control the intensity of vibration of the vibration motors of another sleeve. The output layer of the TaSST consists of twelve perpendicularly placed vibration motors that simulate touches made to the input layer. Our first studies with the TaSST focussed on its ability to communicate different types of touch over a distance. In the near future, we will use two sleeves to explore how mediated touch can be used in different remote communication settings, as well as what sort of effects mediated touch can have on someones affective state.
In February we will present some of our early work on the TaSST at the Seventh International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction (TEI’13) in Barcelona.