Design & Make
Cycle 1

Create a Usable Communication System

This cycle generated the initial system concept and created first prototype for lab-test. The results helped for second development cycle. To kick-off the design process, a moodboard helped me get ideas to establish the concept of communication system, and also to explore the materials affording the tactile sensation.


Specalisation Exploration

Brazilian hospital have used latex gloves with filling warm water to mimic human touch to help patients against isolation during pandemic. With this inspiration, I filled different materials into gloves to experience the tactile affordance, including water, oil, and slimes. Based on the soft materials, I explored a few actuators: vibration motors, water pump, speaker, syringe, air pump. Pros&cons of materials and haptic feedback were listed after experiments

︎ Key Takeaways
01. The water pump with water gloves were chosen for further development
02. Water pump provided the subtle vibration with little noise
03. Slimes afford both solid and fluid touch sensation, but cold and may gives strange feelings



System Concept

A symmetric system was formed initially. Each user has two ports to send and receive touch respectively: sending and receiving port. For the touch input, the remote device will act in the same way to the activated one. This system supports both real-time channel and asynchronous channel for touch communication.

Symmetric System︎︎︎

Real-time Channel︎︎︎
Asynchronous Channel︎︎︎

Realisation & Evaluation

Formed by two water pumps, touch sensor made by aluminium foil,  physical communication system was completed. The lab-test was conducted to evaluate usability. Pairs of participants tried out the devices, collecting user feedback by interview and survey. After lab-test, a test in real life setting was conducted for a few days between me and my friend. The results helped to improve the communication system in the Design and Make Cycle II.

︎︎︎Experiments & Lab-test

︎ Key Takeaways
01. Warmth are expected with water
02. Weight change was too subtle to feel
03. For real-time communication, the vibration is given both by sending and receiving actions, which is confusing
04. Real-time was more attractive in the lab, asynchronous communication was ignored
05. Physical form needs to be improved to be robust
06. Symmetric sending and receiving ports are hard to distinguished