Xian-Zhi Zhang

    concept generation
    mechanical design
    interaction design
    embedded system design
    Collaborator: Sandeep Hoonjan

Feel the conversation.

Feel the conversation. is a student project that challenges how people experience communication by substituting language with haptic feedback. This project is an experiment that investigates if communication could still take place without verbal conversations.

So far, users have described feelings of closeness, excitement, disgust, intimacy and more. What will your conversation feel like?

The experiment is designed around two phone-shaped devices for a pair of users. The interaction is intuitive: the devices’ form factors make the desired reactions obvious to users. However, instead of a speaker that transmits sound, a rotating wheel induces a sensation on user’s ear while the other user is speaking. Whatever languages used, as one person speaks into the device gently or loudly, the wheel on the other side will move slower or faster accordingly. The users will thus feel the conversation.

The pair of interactive devices is a two-way system. One device’s microphone is connected to the other device’s servo motor, controlling its roller and vice-versa. Enabled by an arduino board, the analogue signal measuring the loudness (in dB level) as captured by the microphone is converted to the digital actuation of the servo motor. Two batteries are used to power the motor and the microphone separately to reduce signal interference.

A number of prototypes have been created to iterate on the mechanical and electronic design of the system as well as to create an interesting physical interactive experience. Different materials have been tested for the rolling feeler, such as feather, soft fabric and leather. Biocompatible silicone is chosen for hygienic reasons.

Watch a video to discover examples of interactions.