Mid-Air Haptic Rendering of 2D Geometric Shapes with a Dynamic Tactile Pointer

D Hajas, D Pittera, A Nasce, O Georgiou, Marianna Obrist
in IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Journal article


IEEE An important challenge that affects ultrasonic midair haptics, in contrast to physical touch, is that we lose certain exploratory procedures such as contour following. This makes the task of perceiving geometric properties and shape identification more difficult. Meanwhile, the growing interest in mid-air haptics and their application to various new areas requires an improved understanding of how we perceive specific haptic stimuli, such as icons and control dials in mid-air. We address this challenge by investigating static and dynamic methods of displaying 2D geometric shapes in mid-air. We display a circle, a square, and a triangle, in either a static or dynamic condition, using ultrasonic mid-air haptics. In the static condition, the shapes are presented as a full outline in mid-air, while in the dynamic condition, a tactile pointer is moved around the perimeter of the shapes. We measure participants' accuracy and confidence of identifying shapes in two controlled experiments ($n_1 = 34; n_2 = 25$). Results reveal that in the dynamic condition people recognise shapes significantly more accurately, and with higher confidence. We also find that representing polygons as a set of individually drawn haptic strokes, with a short pause at the corners, drastically enhances shape recognition accuracy. Our research supports the design of mid-air haptic user interfaces in application scenarios such as in-car interactions or assistive technology in education.