Towards human technology symbiosis in the haptic mode

JONES, Peter E., GHOSH, Ayan, PENDERS, Jacques and REED, Heath (2013). Towards human technology symbiosis in the haptic mode. In: International Conference on Communication, Media, Technology and Design, Famagusta, North Cyprus, 2-4 May 2013. 307-312.


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Search and rescue operations are often undertaken in dark and noisy environments in which rescue teams must rely on haptic feedback for exploration and safe exit. However, little attention has been paid specifically to haptic sensitivity in such contexts or to the possibility of enhancing communicational proficiency in the haptic mode as a life-preserving measure. Here we discuss the design of a haptic guide robot, inspired by careful study of the communication between blind person and guide dog. In the case of this partnership, the development of a symbiotic relationship between person and dog, based on mutual trust and confidence, is a prerequisite for successful task performance. We argue that a human-technology symbiosis is equally necessary and possible in the case of the robot guide. But this is dependent on the robot becoming 'transparent technology' in Andy Clark's sense. We report on initial haptic mode experiments in which a person uses a simple mobile mechanical device (a metal disk fixed with a rigid handle) to explore the immediate environment. These experiments demonstrate the extreme sensitivity and trainability of haptic communication and the speed with which users develop and refine their haptic proficiencies in using the device, permitting reliable and accurate discrimination between objects of different weights. We argue that such trials show the transformation of the mobile device into a transparent information appliance and the beginnings of the development of a symbiotic relationship between device and human user. We discuss how these initial explorations may shed light on the more general question of how a human mind, on being exposed to an unknown environment, may enter into collaboration with an external information source in order to learn about, and navigate, that environment.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Page Range: 307-312
Depositing User: Peter Jones
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2013 10:57
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 17:46

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