A Manifesto for Touch in Crisis

We are engaged in the development of a Manifesto for Touch in Crisis. The aim of the manifesto is to offer a provocative vision designed to ignite debate, raise awareness, inspire and direct the design of social touch. 

This is a collaboration with academic and industry colleagues in the field of haptics including computer scientists, engineers and HCI designers. The manifesto is an activity sparked by the Eurohaptics 2020 conference workshop: Designing Digital Touch: Social and Sensory Aspects and Challenges.

The workshop included activities designed to set the scene for an interdisciplinary collaboration including presentations from Jürgen Steimle on New haptic technologies and interfaces for skin and rich materials, Carey Jewitt on The sociality and sensoriality of touch and Narges Pourjafarian, introducing the Multi-Touch Kit. This provided a grounding for sharing, discussing and mapping points of connection, contradictions, compatibilities.

We used the InTouch Designing Digital Touch toolkit to interrogate the Multi-Touch Kit. The focus was on exploring the social and sensorial challenges of digitalising touch through the process of creating interface prototypes with custom-designed multi-touch input surfaces, rather than the production of working prototypes. The activity was organised around three key themes: materiality of touch, touch temporality, notions of interpretation, and ethical design implications. Discussion was mapped using Miro. Participants draw on their experiences and the workshop activities to map the challenges and opportunities for designing digital touch with the social and sensory in mind.

The workshop materials were reviewed by participants and facilitators to generate ideas towards a Manifesto. These were collaboratively explored and elaborated on by the facilitators and an optional follow-on development session with participants. This session focused on exploring various previously developed manifestos, and reviewing our discussion boards to draw out key themes for a manifesto on the social and sensory design of touch.

This iterative development of the Manifesto continued across the following 5 months, using the Miro board to develop and refine key statements for the Manifesto, as well as email exchanges, and development of the draft Manifesto. The final manifesto takes a broad view of design and development to offer routes to navigate the technological realities and promises for touch amidst conflicting social concerns and uncertain futures, through a set of 10 key statements that emerged from this process. As well as being reviewed and refined by collaborators the draft Manifesto was also sent to 6 international experts in haptics for further feedback. This process culminated in a collaboratively developed paper, which we hope to publish following a peer review process.

Collaborators on the Manifesto development:

Carey Jewitt, University College London, PI In-Touch

Sara Price, University College London, CoI In-Touch

Jürgen Steimle, Head of the Human-Computer Interaction and Interactive Technologies Lab, Saarland University, Germany.

Narjes Pourjafarian Saarland University, Germany.

Gijs Huisman, Co-director of Food and Eating Design Lab, TU Delft

Lili Golmohammadi, PhD student In-Touch, UCL

William Frier, Ultraleap

Thomas Howard, CNRS, University of Rennes

Sima Ipakchian Askari, Eindhoven University of Technology

Michela Ornati, Università della Svizzera italiana

Sabrina Panëels, Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission

Judith Weda, University of Twente