‘haptic’ from Greek haptesthai, of or pertaining to touch

(Oxford English Dictionary)

As technologies and interfaces become more literally ‘touchy-feely’ and increasingly gesture-based, how might this be mobilised for assisted living, for the elderly or the vision impaired? What is the role of the senses and the extended body within human-computer interfaces (HCI) and human-robot interfaces (HRI)?

After my thesis and later UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Research Leave spent at Macquarie University in Australia I developed strands about touch in the human-computer interface (HCI) and also the use of touch in digital performance for my doctoral thesis, and article ‘Feel the Presence: The Technologies of Touch’ in one of the top globally-ranked social science journals, Environment & Planning D: Society and Space (2006). These ideas were central to my first monograph, The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies (2007).

Subsequently I have published numerous journal articles and book chapters on sensory substitution technologies, the role of touch in digital design, and human-robot interactions (HRI) within medical and assisted living contexts. Over the years, these include a chapter ‘Digital Craft, Digital Touch: Haptics and Design’ in Small Tech: The Culture of Digital Tools (University of Minnesota Press, 2009), a chapter ‘Electric snakes and mechanical ladders? Social presence, domestic spaces, and human-robot interaction’ in New Technologies and Emerging Spaces of Care (Routledge, 2010). In 2017 I co-edited a special issue ‘Haptic Media Studies’ of New Media and Society with David Parisi and Jason Archer where I published a ‘manifesto’ on inclusive haptic interfaces for users with disabilities.

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