Workshop on Haptic Experience Design

June 22, 2015, Evanston IL


How can we create engaging haptics? A good design process is essential, but haptic experience design lags behind other modalities, lacking established processes, tools, and common vocabulary. We will explore community interest on supporting the design of convincing, captivating haptic experiences.

This hands-on workshop will focus on three topics:

Existing practices designers use to solve haptic experience design problems. How are people creating haptics with current tools?
Challenges faced by haptic designers, from prototyping techniques to barriers of collaboration. What problems exist?
Future steps to tackle these challenges, including design tools, studies, and methods of evaluation. What can we do?

Four invited speakers from academia and industry will present their experience designing haptics. Workshop participants will provide input through a breakout sessions. The intended outcome is a set of use cases, examples, goals, and methodological approaches suitable for future research.


Researchers, engineers, designers, artists, and anyone else interested in how we can apply design thinking to haptics. This includes existing and potential haptic designers, who create technological experiences that leverage the sense of touch, members of industry, such as those creating commercial haptic games, apps, and other products, and academic researchers interested in the experience of touch.


Ali Israr

Senior Research Engineer, Disney Research Pittsburgh

David Birnbaum

Director, UX Design, Immersion

Sriram Subramanian

Professor, University of Bristol

Marianna Obrist

Lecturer in Interaction Design, University of Sussex


Oliver Schneider

PhD Student, UBC

Karon MacLean

Professor, UBC



Organizers introduce the workshop and outline goals


Ali Israr - Design Tools for Haptic Media

Haptic experience is a composition of many factors, such as the hardware technology, context and content, and synchronicity of haptics with other media types. A haptic designer must account these components, as well as meeting the expectations of intended users, for successful use of haptic feedback. Here, I highlight design tools developed in our lab to explore haptic feedback in entertainment settings.


David Birnbaum - Prototyping Haptic Experiences with Haptic Video

Designers and researchers face challenges as they set out to experiment with haptics. Haptic interactions can be difficult to prototype because they cannot be roughly approximated by wireframes and other sketching aids used for visual interface design of mobile applications and web pages. Additionally, a core value of haptics is its use as a feedback modality within an interaction loop, meaning that any "quick and dirty" haptic prototype needs to account for an interactive component. This is no easy task since interactive software development is resource intensive for both software developers and interaction designers.

We propose haptic video prototypes as an inexpensive and flexible solution to experiment with haptic interaction concepts. A haptic video prototype plays haptic effects in synchrony with a pre-recorded video of an interaction, allowing the viewer to experience a haptic use case without a fully-realized interactive system. We have used this approach across a wide range of applications, including mobile devices, automotive interfaces, wearables, and affective displays. Through describing our process and experiences, we hope that others can use haptic video to speed up development and iteration of haptic experiences.


Sriram Subramanian - Designing Touchless Tactile Interactions

This talk will cover the challenges of creating tactile feedback for touchless gesture systems. There is a growing demand to provide mid-air tactile feedback for a range of touchless applications, yet there is limited understanding of how to design tactile experiences for even basic actions like selecting a touchless light-switch. The talk will explore some of the solutions Ultrahaptics is exploring to provide both functional and affective tactile experiences.


Marianna Obrist - What and How: Meaningful Haptic Experience Design

With the proliferation of haptic devices there is a demand for designers to create content that includes tactile feedback. This demand has pushed to the forefront the lack of a vocabulary that allows one to describe and communicate about tactile experiences when designing such systems. Our understanding of how haptic technologies match the experiences with touch that people have or want to have is surprisingly limited. We are facing two main challenges: first we need to understand what tactile experiences we want to design for (requires methods to help participants verbalize their tactile experiences) and second how we can design for such experiences (requires tools/toolkits for designers to systematically explore the design spectrum around haptics).


Coffee break


Piloted Group Activity - Participants separate into four groups, each lead by a panelist.

  1. Design stories and challenges (30min)

    Group members volunteer brief stories of haptic design they've experienced or they hypothesize. After each story, the group identifies challenges, and one group member writes them down.

  2. Design Charrette (20min)

    Individually, each group member chooses a challenge and sketches solutions (design tools, processes, user studies) on a pad of paper for five minutes (strictly timed), then shares their designs with each other.


Panel Discussion - The entire workshop comes back together and has a discussion based on the design activities. Panelists lead the discussion, beginning by describing the challenge they solved. Organizers moderate.


Workshop Conclusion - contact information, photo, lunch


HaXD'15 will be held with World Haptics 2015 at Northwestern University.


Email organizer Oliver Schneider if you have any questions!