In my PhD work, I studied the use of haptic technology (technology that addresses the sense of touch) for social interactions. Social Touch Technology, as I call it, can be used for interactions with people at a distance or can enhance interactions with virtual characters or social robots. In my research I investigated to what extent social touch technology can make people feel closer together, whether or not it can make artificial social agents seem more lifelike, and how technologies can be best designed to deliver appropriate touch sensations.
My other research interests include exploring how digital technologies can be used to enhance our experiences with food consumption. In the Tasty Bits & Bytes project I worked together with industry (e.g. Friesland Campina and Unilever) to explore how technologies, such as Virtual Reality and digital projections, can influence how we experience our food, in particular how interactive visualizations can alter flavor perceptions. In another project, I worked on developing and studying the effects of digital natural landscapes. The aim of the project was to investigate how restorative effects of nature can be introduced in settings where actual nature is found to be lacking, for example, in hospitals.
I have presented my research at a number of international conferences including CHI, TEI, WorldHaptics and EuroHaptics. I have also been involved in organizing several academic workshops, and I frequently give talks and organize hands-on workshops on topics such as social touch, haptics, and human-food interaction.
Prior to obtaining my PhD, I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science, and a cum laude Master’s degree in Communication Studies: New Media, Research, and Design, both at the University of Twente. During this time I was involved in the creation of the LEMtool, an interactive tool to measure emotions in visual interfaces.