Talking About Tactile Experiences

Marianna Obrist, Sue Ann Seah, Sriram Subramanian

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

106 Citations (Scopus)


A common problem with designing and developing applications with tactile interfaces is the lack of a vocabulary that allows one to describe or communicate about haptics. Here we present the findings from a study exploring participants' verbalizations of their tactile experiences across two modulated tactile stimuli (16Hz and 250Hz) related to two important mechanoreceptors in the human hand. The study, with 14 participants, applied the explicitation interview technique to capture detailed descriptions of the diachronic and synchronic structure of tactile experiences. We propose 14 categories for a human-experiential vocabulary based on the categorization of the findings and tie them back to neurophysiological and psychophysical data on the human hand. We finally discuss design opportunities created through this experiential understanding in relation to the two mechanoreceptors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameCHI '13


  • explicitation interview technique, human hand, human-experiential vocabulary, mechanoreceptors, non-contact haptic system, tactile experiences, ultrasound, user study


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