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Theses

Anthropomorphic devices for affective touch communication

Abstract : Communicating emotions is important for human attachment and bonding as well as for physical and psychological well-being.We communicate emotions through voice, but also through body language such as facial expressions, posture or touch. Among all these nonverbal cues, the tactile modality plays a particular role. Touch happens in co-located situations and involves physical contact between two individuals. A touch contact can convey emotions such as comforting someone by gently stroking her arm.Current technologies and devices used for mediated communication are not designed to support affective touch communication.There is a need to have new interfaces to mediate touch, both to detect touch (to replace the receiver's skin) and to convey touch (to replace the emitter's hand).My approach takes inspiration from the human body to inform the design of new interfaces. I promote the use of anthropomorphic affordances to design interfaces that benefit from our knowledge of physical interaction with other humans.Anthropomorphic affordances project human functioning and behaviour to the attributes of an object to suggest ways of using it. However, anthropomorphism has received little attention so far in the field of Human-Computer Interaction; its design space is still largely unexplored. In this thesis, I explore this design space and focus on augmenting mobile and robotic devices with tactile capabilities to enhance the conveying of emotions to enrich social communication.This raises two main research problems addressed in this thesis.A first problem is to define the type of device needed to perform touch. Current actuated devices do not produce human-like touch.In the first part of this thesis, I focus on the design and implementation of interfaces capable of producing humanlike touch output.I highlight human touch factors that can be reproduced by an actuated device. I then experimentally evaluate the impact of humanlike device-initiated touch on the perception of emotions.Finally, I built on top of these findings to propose Mobilimb, a small-scale robotic arm that can be connected onto mobile devices and can touch the user.A second problem is to develop interfaces capable of detecting touch input. My approach is to integrate humanlike artificial skin onto existing devices.I propose requirements to replicate the human skin, and a fabrication method for reproducing its visual, tactile and kinaesthetic properties. I then propose an implementation of artificial skin that can be integrated onto existing devices and can sense expressive touch gestures. This interface is then used to explore possible scenarios and applications for mediated touch input.In summary, this thesis contributes to the design and understanding of anthropomorphic devices for affective touch communication. I propose to use anthropomorphic affordances to design interfaces.To address the research questions of this thesis, I built upon human biological characteristics and digital fabrication tools and methods. The devices presented in this thesis propose new technical and empirical contributions around touch detection and touch generation.
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Marc Teyssier. Anthropomorphic devices for affective touch communication. Human-Computer Interaction [cs.HC]. Institut Polytechnique de Paris, 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020IPPAT023⟩. ⟨tel-02881894⟩

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