Autographic explorations of touch perception

In this series of studies, together with Bernice Rogowitz and Laura Perovich, we explored a novel autographic method for recording touch interactions on the surface of objects. This allowed us to study how people use their sense of touch to gain information about objects and solve cognitive tasks related to them. This research is relevant in the field of data physicalization, where data are encoded into tangible objects.

The paper “The Tactile Dimension” presents a novel method for capturing and physicalizing touch behaviors on arbitrary objects using a fluorescent UV tracer powder. The method involves applying the powder to the object’s surface, which is then removed or displaced when touched, leaving a high-contrast trace that can be photographed under UV light. The authors conducted three user studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technique. The paper received a best paper award / honorable mention at the 2023 CHI conference.

The earlier exploration “Touching Art” delineated and established the method. we applied this technique to study how people interacted with five objects of varying shapes, sizes, and materials. We found that the method successfully captured different types of touches, including single-finger traces, multi-finger and whole-hand grasping, and exploratory gestures. Video recordings and interviews provided additional insights into the touch behaviors. The results showed that touch patterns varied depending on the object’s characteristics and the individual’s exploration style, with some objects inviting more diverse or intense tactile interactions than others.