Haptics

3. technologies

‘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 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, including 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 (Ashgate, 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. ‘Molyneux, neuroplasticity, and technologies of sensory substitution’, a chapter in The Senses and the History of Philosophy was published in 2019.

My next monograph is contracted with Routledge’s ‘Perspectives on the Nonhuman’ series entitled Animal Automata and Lifelike Machines: Robots, Replicants, and Companion Species.

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