ACII’13 workshop proposal

Together with Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze, and my prof. Dirk Heylen I will be organizing a workshop on mediated touch and affect at ACII’13 (Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction). We will issue an official call for papers shortly. In the mean time, you can read the workshop description below.

Mediated Touch and Affect (MeTA)

Social touch refers to physical contact that occurs between individuals in co-located space. Such physical contact can, for instance, involve handshakes as a means of introduction, or more intimate contact between spouses in the form of handholding, or hugging. Research has shown that social touch plays a vital role in human life. Social touch is not only important for the social and emotional development of infants, but plays a major role in the maintenance of social bonds in later life. Furthermore, social touch can have a profound impact on someone’s emotional state. Think, for instance, of the anxiety felt when standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a busy train, or the feeling of comfort when being hugged by a loved one. Moreover, touch can communicate positive or negative emotions, or serve as an intensifier of emotional displays from other modalities.

Recent advances in haptic technology have spurred the development of prototypes that aim to mediate social touch. These prototypes make it possible to engage in social touch over a distance, adding a rich channel for emotional communication to existing communication channels. Such applications could be valuable in remote collaboration, long distance relationships, entertainment or gaming applications, and therapeutic settings. Where research has yielded numerous interesting prototypes for touch over a distance, research into the phenomenon of mediated social touch, and its effects on the affective state of the toucher and receiver of the touch, is still relatively scarce.

The study of social touch involves research from a diversity of research communities, such as affective computing, augmented reality, communication, design, psychology, and telepresence. Because mediated social touch is a relatively novel research area, the main aim of the workshop is to bring together researchers from these diverse communities. The goal is to discuss the current state of and the future directions for research into mediated social touch; to highlight good case studies; to reflect about the methodological issues; and to brainstorm about applications. Because of the novelty of the field of research, we not only welcome papers that directly relate to mediated social touch, but also papers on touch and affect that do not directly deal with mediated or social touch but bear on it