Tag Archive for 'research'

03FebPapers at Chi 2009!

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Yeah!! The two papers I wrote for CHI 2009 were accepted this year! One paper is entitled Design of Haptic Interfaces for Therapy the second one, a work in progress, is called Cost-effective Wearable Sensor to Detect EMF

Design of Haptic Interfaces for Therapy
Touch is fundamental to our emotional well-being. Medical science is starting to understand and develop touch-based therapies for autism spectrum, mood, anxiety and borderline disorders. Based on the most promising touch therapy protocols, we are presenting the first devices that simulate touch through haptic devices to bring relief and assist clinical therapy for mental health. We present several haptic systems that enable medical professionals to facilitate the collaboration between patients and doctors and potentially pave the way for a new form of non-invasive treatment that could be adapted from use in care-giving facilities to public use. We developed these prototypes working closely with a team of mental health professionals.

Download the .pdf ->here<-


Cost-effective Wearable Sensor to Detect EMF .
This other paper is a work in progress, based on a circuit design that I did for the class of Joe Paradiso (co-author). Even though many designers have explored wearable EMF displays, I implemented an electric field sensor that is low-cost, this to democratize EMF reading.

Download the .pdf ->here<-


Chi will be in Boston this year, so that means lots of visits and parties and hang out with old friends!

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure
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25JanIntelligent tactile materials for navigation

I recently investigated objects and textiles made in intelligent materials (mostly actuated) that modulate braille text. Texture and communication go hand in hand in braille, so we can neatly experiment in that direction with smart materials.

I recently searched on the web the type of commercial work done with braille, how do products combine tactile information to the design of everyday objects and I found mainly braille exit signs, signs that provide iconic information accompanied by two forms of text: visual and tactile. It is inspiring to see that companies explore Braille in combination to emergency. This specific company for instance is specialized in exit and emergency lighting. I am curious to know how does these systems translate to a visually impaired person? I am always intrigued when I go to Harvard and play with the tactile classroom signs around campus, it is both informational and pleasurable.


Wouldn’t that be neat if this kind of electrical emergency lights could behave with sonic and tactile information? This could be a next step for companies who design signs for navigation and emergency situations. Exploring haptic information in garments as a mean to convey both meaning, comfort and entertainment, commercial work could draw on this type of research exploration and go beyond the scope of static tactile text for navigation.

09OctPhysical display with deformable skin

Another neat technique in the vein of SnOil, a physical display Based on ferrofluid that reacts to magnetism. Shade Pixel is a type of physical display that uses deformable skin to represent information.

It is very pretty, the dots on the white look like steps in the snow. Notice how the sound from the solenoid works really well with the “clock” idea! A nice trick to deal with such noisy technology. You can see a video about Shade Pixel here:

17JulThis silent language …

In his book The Silent Language, anthropologist Eward T. Hall analyzes the many aspects of non-verbal communication. He analyzes the way people “talk” to one another without the use of words. He proposes that the concepts of space and time are tools with which all human beings may transmit messages.


As I focused on the chapter “how space communicates”, I find intriguing the way Hall compares cultures and their reading of non verbal communication cues. He particularly states that the distance between individuals differs and can drastically affect the dynamics of space interaction. For instance, an American needs to take between 20 inches to 36 inches in a neutral conversation for a personal subject matter. Apparently in Latin America the interaction distance is much less. This claim was also proposed in his other book, The Hidden Dimension. This seems like a pretty large distance to me!

I was wandering, as we are becoming nomads, or neo-nomads –term created and analyzed by Dr. Yasmine Abbas, now that we travel constantly, I wander how these distances of interaction and non verbal communication cues have evolved. Is it possible that we absorb most of these social interactions in our everyday routines, and that after each travel, each interaction, we come back “socially transformed”? Would these non verbal communication cues become more obvious to us?


In one of his other book, The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time, Hall explores the way humans are intrinsically linked to the rhythm of life, how being unsynchronized can disturb them and even bring them into depression! He explains, based on observations, how people are tied together and yet isolated by hidden threads of rhythm and walls of time. Time is treated as a language, organizer, and message system revealing people’s feelings about each other and reflecting differences between cultures. He claims that repetition is not appreciated or that Americans are not trained to appreciate repetition. Through repetition comes learning, comes depth of understanding, comes rhythm. He proposes that the invisible rhythm is not widely recognized, that rhythms are only presented on stage by talented performers! Hall assumes there is a relationship between rhythm and love. Basically it affects our entire being. Synchrony in life seems strangely related to rhythm in music. The pattern of our movements can translate into a beat. Without this rhythm, we are not synchronized and we loose our contact with life …

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

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16JulHow to design a reconfigurable artificial sensate skin?

For the technical area of my general exams lead by Dr. Joe Paradiso, I read Gerardo Barroeta Pérez’s very inspiring thesis in which he presents S.N.A.K.E.: A dynamically reconfigurable artificial sensate skin as well as a series of related work.

The idea is to design a device that inherits the characteristics of human skin. Surveying prior work in materials, flexible electronics, sensing matrices and sensor networks, Gerardo presents a new type of artificial sensate skin: low power, scalable, mechanically flexible, and that extracts a rich set of multi modal sensor data. Also each node in SNAKE is capable of changing its behavior by changing its code. One can use SNAKE as a scalable smart material that covers interactive surfaces!

This Skin is composed of one or many Skin Patches which in turn are composed of one or many Skin Nodes. Each node is able to measure Strain, Pressure, Ambient Light, Pressure, Sound and Mechano-reception. Each Skin Patch can either work as a stand-alone device or as a data extraction device if this is attached to a Personal Computer through a different type of device referred to as Brains. Each Skin Node and therefore each Skin Patch: is Dynamically Adaptable meaning that they can adapt to external stimuli by either modifying their behavior or by completely changing their code. Construction of a sensate skin in such a modular fashion promises intrinsic scalability, where peer-to-peer connections between neighbors can reduce local data, which can then be sent to the brain by the high-speed common backbone.


Paradiso observed two general trends in sensor networks: Either the individual sensors are routed to a central processing unit or as completely decentralized sensor networks. So in SNAKE, data can be processed locally because each node is given processing power. Each node can also be connected to each other to create a skin like surface to react to the same kinds of stimuli that our skin encounters. The idea of a communication link between nodes is inspired by how our cells communicate with one another. When stimulated they generate an electrical pulse, informing our brain, while also releasing neurochemical transmitters received by neighboring cells.

Each skin patch in SNAKE is a sensor network composed by sensor nodes. Each node is made of a multi layer, flexible circuit substrate that sense six physical quantities: Stain/Bending by using two orthogonal custom made strain gages. Proximity/Activity by using a piezoelectric cantilever. Absolute pressure by using a quantum-tunneling effect material. Ambient light by adding an integrated sensor. Audio by adding a MEMS microphone. Temperature by using an integrated temperature sensor.

Related work in the field

Paintable Computer designed by William Butera for his PhD thesis at MIT. Paintable Computing is: “An agglomerate of numerous, finely dispersed, ultra miniaturized computing particles; each positioned randomly, running asynchronously and communicating locally -Butera”.

Tribble designed by Josh Lifton is a tactile reactive interface built by linked elements assembled in a sphere made up of tiles. The advantage of this work is to be a completely decentralized network; each node is capable of processing its own generated data without the need of a centralized processing unit. The cons is probably its shape, fixed, preventing it of being a scalable smart surface. Also it is power hungry!



Pushpin Computing
The project developed by Josh Lifton & Michael Broxton consists of a hundred of peer-to-peer wireless sensor nodes freely distributed over a table-top interface.



Recreating the sense of touch have been explored by many other researchers, but all of them rely on a centralized processing unit to process the data extracted from the sensors. For instance, Lumelsky’s sensitive skin, a prototype of a skin patch with infrared lights and receivers used as proximity sensors. Hakozaki created a flexible robot skin to cover wide robot surfaces. Rekimoto presents a capacitive “smart skin” sensor for use in interactive surfaces.

Also prior work as shown artificial sensate skins not implemented as sensor networks but as sensor matrices: each sensor must be individually routed to a central processing unit. This is the case for instance for Takao Someya and his large flexible sensor matrix with organic field effect transistors or for M. Sergio’s textile-based capacitive sensor array that can be used as sensitive skin.


Takao Someya’ sensor matrix

An artificial sensate skin needs to be flexible. The innovative work of Stephanie Lacour is probably the most prominent example. She has created a new conducting material that can be stretched and still retain their electronic properties this by depositing thin gold layers on elastic rubber substrates. Also one can refer to the work done on the e-paper by Jacobson, micro capsules, filled with electronically loaded white parts that were dissolved in a dark colored oil.

-> Link <- to the .pdf of Pérez thesis.

Posted by Cati Vaucelle @ Architectradure

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