Virtual Touch


Image taken at Ocean of Air Exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery

This case study focuses on exploring the notions of ‘virtual’ touch – in other words, the conceptualisation and experience of ‘touch’ in environments, such as virtual reality, pseudo haptics and mediated touch technologies. These environments raise interesting questions around the materiality of touch, how the materiality of interaction and communication changes in these digital contexts, and the kinds of ‘touch’ sensations that people sense or experience.

In this case study we are starting by having conversations with designers, developers and researchers working with these different technologies, to explore the following questions:

  • What is touch in this space: where is – or isn’t – touch happening? What is gained or lost?
  • What sense/perception of touch does the experience elicit? How do people interpret – or make sense – of these touch experiences?
  • What does this mean for communication? What forms of communication are taking place/ are possible?
  • What is the relationship between touch and gesture; how does gestural interaction with virtual objects map to everyday experiences of touch?
  • Multisensory relationships: What other resources do people draw on (e.g. context, visual) to interpret touch experiences?