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Guest Editorial for Special Section on Consumer Electronics

Danny Grant, IEEE
Seungmoon Choi
Reinhard Moeller, IEEE

Pages: pp. 4-5

The number of daily human computer interactions with consumer devices is increasing at a staggering rate. Just considering text messaging in the United States alone, more than a trillion text messages have been sent in the last year (CTIA Semi-Annual survey October 2011). The fundamental means of interacting with our digital environment are through video, audio, and haptics, and the sense of touch is paramount in how we enter information into the device. As a result, haptics in consumer electronics has been a topic of growing importance in the publications of not only the haptics community, but also those of the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society. For two years now, the International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE) has adopted haptics to the tracks on human computer interfaces. This resulted in a joint call for papers for both the journal and the ICCE, leading to this special section.

Touch screens are the predominant interface today, and are driving consumer haptic adoption. Given the immense number of interactions with digital devices, it is critical to make those interactions intuitive and natural to use, and to maximize the channels available to us for interaction, such as using haptics in different ways to convey information back to the user. Both of these areas will be addressed by the five papers in this special section.

The first generations of haptic-enabled consumer devices, and the majority on the market today, have been primarily based on electromagnetic motors that create whole device vibration. This, however, is only the beginning when considering the range of haptic experiences that are possible. High fidelity haptics, using piezo actuators and electroactive polymers, are currently being launched in the market and will be an important step in advancing the user experience by taking advantage of the broader range of experiences that can be rendered. Future devices will go beyond even that by providing directional cues via vibrotactile travelling waves, creating the feel of real world textures, and enabling new haptic experiences such as skin stretch, variable friction, or even small or large scale deformation.

One of the keys to widespread commercial success of haptics in consumer devices is in developing the entire ecosystem for this multidisciplinary field. This includes making advancements in the understanding of human haptic perception, the base enabling technologie such as actuators, amplifiers, and rendering methods, as well as the software development and design tools, all culminating in the way that haptics is used in the end application. The first four papers in this special section are directed at the base enabling technologies such as electrotactile displays, vibrotactile travelling waves, and providing multimodal direction cues for mobile devices, while the last paper focuses on how haptics is used in the interface.

The first paper, “Electrotactile Feedback for Handheld Devices with Touch Screen and Simulation of Roughness," by M. Ercan Altinsoy and Sebastian Merchel, introduces a novel electrotactile display integrated into a mobile device touchscreen. They apply the technology to rendering of virtual textures on the touchscreen and demonstrate that the electrotactile display is capable of controlling the perceived roughness of textures via two psychophysical experiments. This work expands the benefits of the electrotactile display that has some integration advantages over the more common vibrotactile approach.

The next two papers have a common theme, a vibrotactile flow (or wave), that can be produced by two vibrotactile actuators to deliver the sensation of a moving vibration on a plane. The second paper, “Vibrotactile Rendering for a Traveling Vibrotactile Wave Based on a Haptic Processor,” by Sang-Youn Kim and Jeong Cheol Kim, is particularly relevant to this special section as they present an electronic chip that includes the function of vibrotactile wave generation and is ready for adoption in consumer mobile devices. The third paper, “Smooth Vibrotactile Flow Generation Using Two Piezoelectric Actuators,” by Jeonggoo Kang, Jongsuh Lee, Heewon Kim, Kwangsu Cho, Semyung Wang, and Jeha Ryu, advances the technology for vibrotactile waves by using two wideband piezoelectric actuators. They propose a frequency-sweeping algorithm that can modulate the resonance position on a plate and demonstrate that the algorithm can improve the quality of vibrotactile flow perception. These two papers further elevate the possibility of using the vibrotactile flow technology in commercial handheld devices.

In the fourth paper, “Mobile Navigation Using Haptic, Audio, and Visual Direction Cues with a Handheld Test Platform,” Rebecca L. Koslover, Brian T. Gleeson, Joshua T. de Bever, and William R. Provancher develop a multimodal handheld display as a navigation aid. The display can provide visual, auditory, vibrotactile, and skin-stretch stimuli, and its performance is evaluated under both stationary and mobile situations. In particular, this work provides the performance of each modality in terms of response time, which can be valuable knowledge for the engineers who design mobile navigation devices or applications.

Last, “Negative Feedback for Small Capacitive Touchscreen Interfaces: A Usability Study for Data Entry Tasks,” by Sarangi P. Parikh and Joel M. Esposito, examines the advantages and disadvantages of negative feedback for a key-entry task on the touchscreen. While in conventional interfaces, positive feedback (e.g., confirmation of correct key presses) is more popular, negative feedback (e.g., feedback of erroneous or ambiguous key presses) also provides end user value. The strong aspects of this study lie on careful, objective comparisons of the pros and cons of the negative feedback approach.

Danny Grant

Seungmoon Choi

Reinhard Moeller

Guest Editors

About the Authors

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Danny Grant received the doctorate degree in electrical engineering from McGill University in 1999 with a focus on control and robotics, where he continues as an adjunct professor. He is a principal engineer at Immersion Corporation with more than 15 years of experience working with haptics (force feedback) technology. He develops innovative user interface experiences for next-generation digital devices, and is an authority on haptics technologies and its applications to mobile communications, gaming, and automotive industries. His tenure at Immersion includes senior level research and research-management positions, notably leading the research effort behind the haptic rendering algorithms that are now shipping in hundreds of millions of consumer devices. Prior to Immersion, he consulted with Haptic Technologies to design and patent high-resolution optical sensors for an award-winning force feedback mouse. As senior member of the IEEE, he is an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, the author of several publications on the design of haptic devices, interfaces, and controls, and holds more than 90 US issued or pending patents.
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Seungmoon Choi received the BS and MS degrees in control and instrumentation engineering from Seoul National University in 1995 and 1997, respectively, and the PhD degree in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue University in 2003. From 2003-2005, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Purdue University, in part for the Envision Center for Data Perceptualization. In 2005, he joined the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), where he is currently an associate professor in computer science and engineering. He received an Early Career Award 2011 from the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics and several best paper awards from premium international conferences including the IEEE Haptics Symposium and IEEE World Haptics Conference. He is a cochair of IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics, an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, and an editorial board member of Virtual Reality. He has also served on the program committee of a number of international conferences on haptics. His research interests lie on haptic rendering and perception, emphasizing on kinesthetic rendering of hardness and texture, tactile rendering, sensorimotor skill modeling and transfer, haptic augmented reality, mobile haptic interface, data haptization, and applied perception. His basic research has been applied to mobile devices, automobiles, virtual prototyping, and motion-based remote controllers.
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Reinhard Moeller received the Diplomingenieur degree in electrical engineering in 1981 and the PhD (Dr.-Ing.) degree in 1986 from the University of Wuppertal, Germany. He worked for several companies and as a freelancer in automation and control engineering. In 2006, he joined Wuppertal University as a tenure professor (apl. Prof.) in automation/computer science. His research objectives are in multimodal human process interaction including haptics and augmented reality, intelligent environments, and assistive technology. With his research group, he has developed several interactive simulation systems for education and training. He is a senior member of the IEEE, a member of the IEEE Computer Society and the IEEE Consumer Electronics Society, VDE, and the Graphics group (ANIS) of GI. He has been the Consumer Electronics Society liaison to the IEEE Transactions on Haptics (ToH) and a member of the Management Committee since founding of ToH. In the Consumer Electronics Society, he has been track and session Chair on HCI and Haptics for the International Conference on Consumer Electronics (ICCE) since 2006.
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