When we say haptics, we might be referring to human haptics: perceptually, what we feel through our skin (tactility), how we experience force, pressure and weight (kinaesthesia), and know where our body is in space (proprioception). We also often call haptics our one “bidirectional sense” because it is inextricably linked with action and musculoskeletal control - how we interact with the world, whether by pouring water from a pitcher into a glass, typing on a keyboard, or using a gestural game controller.
While we perceive it in a unified way, this “sense” is really a complex coordination of many types of mechanoreceptors in our skin, muscles and even including our inner ear. It is a crucial component of functional, social and affective communication; and most fundamentally, central to our embodied sense of self and how we experience emotion.
Machine haptics refers to the rich variety of technology (devices, control algorithms, materials and more) through which computed constructs can be displayed for us to feel, interact with, and manipulate a virtual or remote environment. For a sample of devices, see haptipedia.org.
Finally, connecting these two is haptic interaction design (HaXD): the science and art of connecting perception and technology in the service of an application.
This course aims to provide you with enough knowledge of human and machine haptics and basic HaXD knowledge to qualify as a novice haptic interaction designer.
CanHap501 is a graduate-level introduction to the inception, creation and evaluation of haptic and multimodal human-computer interfaces. It covers perceptual and attentional foundations, and emphasizes control and/or display of computed sensations and environments through haptic devices to user's sense of touch for the purpose of haptic communication -- for example, signalling, social and affective touch, and sharing of control between human and a smart system.
Format: CanHap501is delivered fully online in Canadian timezones, with a centerpiece team project carried out by cross-institutional teams. The course consists of lectures, assignments and labs, reading and discussion of current literature; culminating in a team project. Labs and projects employ a haptic force-feedback device made available to enrolled students for use at home or their local lab.
The primary focus of the project is on creative crafting of the interaction design to suit the targeted application; its focus will be loosely based on a 2017 student innovation challenge sponsored by two of the instructors, described in Seifi et al 2019.
Multi-institution delivery and student eligibility: In 2020W2, this course is being taught jointly by a team of instructors from CanHaptics, a network of haptics researchers across Canada. To take part, please contact a member off the instructor team. Priority is given to students at participating institutions for a limited number of seats, generally those planning to conduct research with the instructors.
History: CanHap501 is derived from UBC (MacLean's) CPSC 543; which in turn owes much to Camille Mousette's Simple Haptics methodology. Important modifications include the multi-instructor cast with extra modules featuring their expertise; a project now based on the Montreal-based Haply haptic device, designed for collaboration by remote teams, and a fully virtual but substantively synchronous course delivery administered on platforms chosen for multi-institution access, FIPPA compliance as well as functionality and usability.
|McGill - Shared Reality Lab
UBC - SPIN Lab
U Waterloo - Haptic Computing
U Manitoba - HCI Lab
ETS Montreal - Haptics
McGill - Shared Reality Lab (postdoc)
|Contact:||Via CanHap Discord||Discord connection info provided by email to registered students|
|Instructor contact:||In lab (below) or by arrangement||By arrangement w/ instructors; contact through Discord|
|Term:||2020 Winter 2 (Jan-April 2021)||Classes: Jan 11 - April 14
Exam period (project report and presentations): April 19-26
|PST: Mon 10:00-12:00
EST: Mon 13:00-15:00
Link: Provided on Course Dashboard (registered access)
|1 hr/ Week, time to be arranged
during Week 1
|Location: CanHap Discord (registered access)|
|Communication:||CanHap Discord||Discord connection info provided by email to registered students|
|Readings||CanHap Perusall||Information at Readings (registered access)|
|Schedule:||course dashboard||Registered access|
This course's initial labs are based on Arduino-based haptic sketching: a rapid iterative cycle in design explorations.
Each student will be supplied with a Haply haptic device by their (local) supervisor, to be returned at the end of the course. The Haply (development platform described in Gallacher et al 2018) is an Arduino-based, open-sourced hardware and software platform developed to lower the barrier of entry for those wishing to explore more sophisticated haptic interaction techniques, allowing developers to use the same hardware and software architecture to design force-feedback and vibratory haptic interaction methods from one to four degrees of freedom. It is interfaced via the hAPI (Haply API). More extensive description and introduction to using this device will be provided within the course.
Today, we know how to build and control small safe robots, we have mastered some techniques for haptic rendering, and we understand some of the key human psychophysic and cognitive abilities that translate into specifications for haptic displays. This has paved the way to the current research frontiers:
The detailed and finalized lecture schedule is maintained the course dashboard (accessible to registered students). To support the labs and project, several threads of instruction are interwoven over the term. They are listed here by thread; see the course Dashboard for their actual ordering in the class.
There is a possibility of minor adjustments to the lecture outline and format as the term progresses - this is the first time we are doing this.
Haptic Technology & Rendering
A student who successfully completes this course will ...
1) Know some basics about haptic interfaces, their actuation, control and programming, able to:
2) Be aware of application areas, and how to think about new ones, able to:
3) Possess a rudimentary understanding of haptic psychophysics, able to:
4) Take a physical interface concept through multiple iterative cycles of design and description, able to:
Physical user intefaces are intensely interdisciplinary. We invite students from Computer Science, Engineering (particularly mechanical, electrical) and Psychology with interests in human-computer interaction (HCI) and novel interface technologies to take this course.
Given the interdisciplinary mandate, prerequisites are minimal, but be prepared to absorb new information in a variety of areas.
Skills that are especially welcomed: The following are not necessary, but if you have one or more it will come in handy!
Finally, bring your creative and artistic side. While a technical background is essential to build interfaces, some of the best ideas and intuitions for them come from the hours you spend with old-fashioned hand tools, musical instruments, drawing/painting/sculpting implements, and anything else where you've found the physical medium allows you some control over content that a keyboard and mouse doesn't.
Deliverables need to be turned in on time (Dashboard) and according to instructions to allow marking, feedback and collaboration / peer review with your team and classmatees to proceed smoothly. Please familiarize yourself with the class rhythm and adhere to it.
When a deliverable is handed in late without prior approval from an instructor, it will be reviewed for feedback as is feasible, but will suffer a late penalty. This applies to everything you hand in, based on the method of hand-in (and thereby our marking and feedback processes).
If you or your team foresee a challenge in submitting by the posted deadline, request approval on Discord by the deadline listed below for the specific deliverable type, and an instructor will make every attempt to respond in a timely manner. Your request should include the reason for the needed delay; and we expect there will not be many such requests per individual during the term. Send requests to:
CanHap501 is by necessity an online course, which makes it particularly critical that we foster a respectful, safe and inclusive environment across all the interactions we engage in. Joining and remaining on this online community (and being part of the CanHaptics course) means committing to this Code of Conduct.
The following is a tentative plan. As this is the first time we have offered a course like this in a remote-team based format, there may be adjustments along the way.