669.2 Remote communication of emotions through a tactile device

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Gabrielle LE BIHAN , TSH, Université de Technologie de Compiègne, Compiègne, France
Loïc DESCHAMPS , TSH, Université de Technologie de Compiègne, Compiègne, France
Charles LENAY , TSH, Université de Technologie de Compiègne, Compiègne, France
Dominique AUBERT , TSH, Université de Technologie de Compiègne, Compiègne, France
In our emotional research context, our method consists in using a special device to conduct psychological experiments. Our goal is to design interfaces for remote emotional communication; it requires taking a look at the way emotions are transmitted. We decided to explore the tactile channel, since the sense of touch is very specific and plays an important role in  the emotion transmission on a daily basis. We designed a minimalist system, called Tactos, which allows a form of distal touch. Tactos consists of an effector (a mouse or a graphic tablet) and of a MITT module (composed of 16 piezo-electric pins that can independently get on two positions: up or down) that provides tactile stimulations. Users share a same virtual space they can explore through Tactos. We want to understand how people can interact through this device (by recording everything happening within it) when they have no other way to communicate. They move a cursor in this space and they get a tactile stimulation when it encounters the cursor of the other person. It's what we call distal perceptual crossing; it’s a mutual recognition of perception, that happens in Tactos' case when the two users’ cursors touch (because then the two users get a tactile stimulation). To explore the emotional dimension associated with this situation, we conducted two experiments in minimalist conditions and showed that human beings are able to identify when they interact with another human being or with a robot, and that they are more likely to succeed in finding an object that they can both perceive, when they interact than when they don’t. To understand emotions, we opted for psychological experiments; the data analysis consists partly in observing subjects’ actions and perceptions. Collected data are very rich, and permit to explore emotions’ transmission in a new way.