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Introducing the Hapti-Harness. Start feeling.

“Towards an understanding of a tactile feedback system for use in multitudinous environments”

Building the hapti-harness from Matt Jarvis on Vimeo.

How is the experience to feel data? What is it to evoke an extra layer of awareness using a type of tactile reflex? Could a state of continuous partial attention be especially useful for certain information? These are some questions which have led us to research the introduction of a haptic feedback garment as an appropriate medium for artistic expression and creative application.

In order to experience, describe and study the appropriate form and the potential of such a medium, we built a device we named the Hapti-Harness; a wireless, multi-modal vibration based haptic feedback system for use on the torso. This enables exploration using multiple types of information. Once we built the hardware, we developed a communication framework and number of applications to control the effects of the device and read information from it. These applications are categorised into themes, proposing alternate directions for experimentation of vibration based sensory modalities as a medium. We asked people to use it and we recorded their experiences. The impact that the Hapti-Harness had into our participants reveals a great potential for further study of the proposed medium outside the already established fields that have been researched so far.

Multitasking is a complex, albeit common, human activity where we try to keep tabs on processes, information and life its self. Yet according to Christine Rosen from The New Atlantis, there is neuroscience and anecdotal evidence that multitasking is a myth. We are continually shifting our primary conscience attention from one thing to another while exercising judgement on what needs our attention the most and monitoring all the background information. There is a mental state that was christened CPA (continual partial attention) by Linda Stone, a former Apple and Microsoft executive who says we are “constantly scanning for opportunities and staying on top of contacts, events, and activities in an effort to miss nothing” and warns “we have stretched our attention bandwidth to its upper limits. We think that if technology has a lot of bandwidth then we do, too.”

Although the affect of information overload, multitasking and our capacity to handle lots of information is under continual debate, the way we interact with data has been largely visually and/or auditory based. A haptic medium could be a route to beat unintended attention deficits created already by the latest gadgets and services. In this paper we present a haptic device in the rather new field of Human Interface Design for creative exploration.

Our approach

The introduction and the study of a haptic feedback medium suggests the existence of the medium itself. We built a loose platform which is constituted by hardware and software on which we can built different applications that are suggestive on the directions that the medium would take. So we built a haptic harness.

The Hapti Harness consists of an arrangement of straps made of elastic soft material aiming in to maximising the comfort. The basic set up incorporates a strap around the waist (“the belt”), an arrangement of a V shape strap hooked on the front side of the belt and running horizontally along the torso onto the back side of the belt. An extra strap is placed around the chest, and all the vibration units are attached on the straps using Velcro patches which allows for flexibility of placement.

The used hardware
– 22 vibrating motors 2.5~3.8 V@70mA, at 200 Hz.
– 2-axis magneto-resistive sensors compass module; HMC652
– 32 channel GPS module; LS20031
– 2 TLC5930 chips
– 1 arduino Flo
– 2 XBees 1mW Wire Antenna
– 1 UItrasonic sensor
– 2 infrared proximity sensors
– Polymer Lithium Ion Battery – 2000mAh
– 4 AA 1.5V batteries

At present, a simple API is all that is required to interact with the harness.  Current implementations such us the HAML (Haptic Application Markup Language) are indicating the path which needs to be taken for universal development to take place. It would be ideal if HAML was covering the Hapti-Harness setup, but as yet, it mainly deals with haptics as feedback devices mainly engaged in tele-presence field work or virtual reality 3D environments, with a fair degree of complexity. The Hapti-Harness project is a simpler system and could be included as a part of HAML in the future, as this could become the standard which goes on to allow universal adoption of haptics to all other future haptic technological systems.

Prototype testing

Hapti-Harness prototype testing from Matt Jarvis on Vimeo.

This project wouldn’t have been possible without the Arduino community (who have built such an accessible electronic prototyping platform), SparkFun (for getting most components in one place a wonderful documentation of hobby projects) Cycling74 (for the MAX/MSP 1software) and Apple (for nice, working computers). Thanks to Grumpy_Mike (for the electronics support), Mikal Hart (for the Ardunio NSS, Flash and TinyGPS libraries), Maarten Lamers (for support with the GPS).

Special thanks must go to the following people who have provided various assistance, help, advice and motivation: Veneta Andersen, Stijn Belle, Clara Blad, Ghislaine Boddington, Arthur Elsenaar, Stelios Giannoulis, Richard Hardstone, Firat Kara, Dunya Kirkali, Zane Kripe, Eero Mella-Aho, Zameer Razack, Simon Skinner, Heike Sperber, Linda Stone, Taconis Stolk, Lieven Van Velthoven.

We will soon release all the information open source on it’s own website. Watch this space 😀

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