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Touch gestures in communicating emotional intention via vibrotactile stimulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)679-690
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Studies
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Remote communication between people typically relies on audio and vision although current mobile devices are increasingly based on detecting different touch gestures such as swiping. These gestures could be adapted to interpersonal communication by using tactile technology capable of producing touch stimulation to a user's hand. It has been suggested that such mediated social touch would allow for new forms of emotional communication. The aim was to study whether vibrotactile stimulation that imitates human touch can convey intended emotions from one person to another. For this purpose, devices were used that converted touch gestures of squeeze and finger touch to vibrotactile stimulation. When one user squeezed his device or touched it with finger(s), another user felt corresponding vibrotactile stimulation on her device via four vibrating actuators. In an experiment, participant dyads comprising a sender and receiver were to communicate variations in the affective dimensions of valence and arousal using the devices. The sender's task was to create stimulation that would convey unpleasant, pleasant, relaxed, or aroused emotional intention to the receiver. Both the sender and receiver rated the stimulation using scales for valence and arousal so that the match between sender's intended emotions and receiver's interpretations could be measured. The results showed that squeeze was better at communicating unpleasant and aroused emotional intention, while finger touch was better at communicating pleasant and relaxed emotional intention. The results can be used in developing technology that enables people to communicate via touch by choosing touch gesture that matches the desired emotion.


  • Affective interaction, Emotions, Haptics, Mediated social touch, Mobile devices, Tactile communication