Case Studies

InTouch is designed around a series of case studies each of which explores how touch is mediated by a particular technology in a specific context. Read up on some of our past and current work listed below. This short video gives a visual overview of the case studies.


Robotic Touch

This case study is a multi-site sensory ethnography of a new generation of industrial 4.0 robots, with advanced capabilities to sense, move, collaborate and ‘learn’, opening up new
possibilities for ‘robotic touch’.  It aims to contribute to understanding how emerging robotic technologies influence the social and sensory qualities of touch in the context of work.

The Lockdown Touch Diaries

This collaborative project, led by Lisa May Thomas, brings together dance artists, arts and social science researchers and creative technologists to create audio-visual diaries around the theme of ‘expanded touch in lockdown environments’ – to map and document experiences of touch over the period of Covid-19 restrictions around physical distancing and avoidance of physical contact.

Newspaper discourses of ‘touch’ in the age of COVID-19

This case study locates and critically examines British newspaper discourses of ‘touch’ and digitally mediated personal relationships during COVID-19, with reference to touch and the digital in the lead-up to the 2020 pandemic.

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. 

Designing Digital Touch

How do design students think about and through touch? What happens when digital touch communication moves to the centre of the design process? We worked with scholars at the Loughborough Design School to explore these questions by co-developing a student design brief for their course on User Experience Design.

In Touch with Baby

Can we think of bio-sensing as digital touch? We explore bio-sensing as an extreme case of mediated touch in the context of parent-infant interaction.

Virtual Touch

How do we conceptualise and experience ‘touch’ in environments such as, virtual reality, pseudo haptics and mediated touch technologies, where the ‘materiality’ of touch disappears or is changed in new ways?

Threshold Touch Experiences

This on-going artistic collaboration between IN-TOUCH, artist and researcher  Marloeke van der Vlugt, and the composer, director and researcher  Falk Hubner explores the politics and aesthetics of digital touch through interactive digital performance and technology; and investigates the potentials of research collaboration between performance and social science research to provide insights on digital touch communication.

Tactile Emoticon

Working with UCL colleagues from neuroscience and computer science, we made a prototype to investigate how the established digital communicative practices of sending emoticons might be extended to touch to enhance social communication and positive social feedback.

Imagining Remote Personal Touch

What are the possible roles and nature of touch in the context of personal relationships and, specifically, remote personal communication? We use a series of interactive prototyping workshops to explore this question.

The Art of Remote Contact

How might digital interactive arts offer people a new route to explore touch and digital touch communication? How could creative uses of technology enhance feelings of connection and tackle isolation? We explore these questions in collaboration with interactive arts studio Invisible Flock.