Proceedings: GI 2009

Exploring melodic variance in rhythmic haptic stimulus design

Bradley Swerdfeger, Jennifer Fernquist, Thomas Hazelton, Karon MacLean

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2009: Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, 25 - 27 May 2009, 133-140

  • BibTex

    author = {Swerdfeger, Bradley and Fernquist, Jennifer and Hazelton, Thomas and MacLean, Karon},
    title = {Exploring melodic variance in rhythmic haptic stimulus design},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2009},
    series = {GI 2009},
    year = {2009},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {978-1-56881-470-4},
    location = {Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada},
    pages = {133--140},
    numpages = {8},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {Toronto, Ontario, Canada},
    keywords = {haptic UIs, multi-modal interfaces, user studies},


Haptic icons are brief, meaningful tactile or force stimuli designed to support the communication of information through the often-underutilized haptic modality. Challenges to producing large, reusable sets of haptic icons include technological constraints and the need for broadly-applicable and validated design heuristics to guide the process. The largest set of haptic stimuli to date was produced through systematic use of heuristics for monotone rhythms. We hypothesized that further extending signal expressivity would continue to enhance icon learnability. Here, we introduce melody into the design of rhythmic stimuli as a means of increasing expressiveness while retaining the principle of systematic design, as guided by music theory. Haptic melodies are evaluated for their perceptual distinctiveness; experimental results from grouping tasks indicate that rhythm dominates user categorization of melodies, with frequency and amplitude potentially left available as new dimensions for the designer to control within-group variation.