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China Symposium on Human Computer Interaction 2012

Prof. Hong Z. Tan

Purdue University and Microsoft Research Asia

Adding Touch Feedback to Human Computer Interactions

For a long time, the sense of touch has been regarded as an inferior sense as compared to vision or audition. However, the potential to receive information through touch is well illustrated by natural communication methods used by individuals with severe auditory and/or visual impairments. With the advent of cellphones and handheld digital devices, there are renewed interests in transmitting information through touch for privacy or for enhanced interaction experience. My talk will start with a historic review of vibrotactile displays for sensory substitutions with an emphasis on wearable/portable systems. I will then provide an overview of more recent advances in haptics research enabled by force-feedback human-machine interfaces. Looking towards the future, haptics research has now reached a level of maturity that it is only a matter of time that human computer interactions will not only benefit from touch input but also touch feedback. In fact, many technologies are readily available, today, to make this happen. I will speculate on near-term opportunities for adding touch feedback to mobile devices, keyboards and tablets.


Hong Z. Tan is a professor of electrical and computer engineering with courtesy appointments in mechanical engineering and psychological sciences at Purdue University. Her research focuses on haptic human-machine interfaces and haptic perception. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, P.R. China. She earned her Master and Doctorate degrees, both in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory before joining the faculty at Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1998. She has held a McDonnell Visiting Fellowship at Oxford University, and a Visiting Associate Professorship in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University. She is currently a Visiting Researcher with Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, P. R. China.

Tan was a recipient of the US National Science Foundation's Early Faculty Development (CAREER) Award from 2000 to 2004. In addition to serving on numerous program committees, she was a co-organizer (with Blake Hannaford) of the International Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems from 2003 to 2005. She was the founding chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics, a home for the international interdisciplinary haptics research community, from 2006 to 2008. She is currently an associate editor of Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, ACM Transactions on Applied Perception and IEEE Transactions on Haptics.