January 1, 2015

The Initial Concept for the Force

HCI research, idea generation


When I began my masters degree at the University of Toronto in September 2013 I really had no idea what my thesis would be about. After doing a few months of readings, I became intrigued by the sense of touch.

State of the Art

Researchers today are looking at simulating various textures on table top surfaces, allowing users to touch virtual objects, and providing realistic vibrational feedback in a flight simulator just to mention a few. Technology that generates this feedback is large and bulky and requires the user to be stationary or confined to a small area. Observing this, I was inspired to build a haptic system that was built around the user, allowing them to be mobile and enhance their capabilities.

I also noticed that many mid-air gestural technologies lack some kind of haptic feedback to make the interactions more immersive. The prime example of this is the Kinect where the user just receives sound and visual feedback. This was an area I could focus on! Some research in this area had been conducted but mainly in the area of virtual reality. I wanted to focus on the real world.

Idea Generation

I wanted to build a system that would allow users to have telekinetic control of objects in their surrounding but also be able to feel them in their hand. It was pretty much the embodiment of the Force in the Star Wars movies. Below is my first visualization of this concept.

User able to distantly touch object in view.

User interacting with objects not in view.

We decided to call the idea of distantly touching and holding objects in one’s surroundings “teletactics.”

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