UCL helping us stay IN-TOUCH
How might the expansion of digital touch technologies influence social interaction and tactile communication in the future? Discover how UCL Minds and IN-TOUCH are exploring the social implications of future digital touch technologies.
How might the expansion of digital touch technologies influence social interaction and tactile communication in the future?
UCL researchers, led by Professor Carey Jewitt (UCL Knowledge Lab), are working on the IN-TOUCH project to examine how digital touch technologies are reshaping touch and tactile communication in personal relationships, health and well-being, work, learning and leisure.
The IN-TOUCH project aims to close the gap between technological development and social science by exploring the social implications of digital touch technologies for communication. For example, the new wave of robots being designed with a capacity to touch, means we need to consider how we will work alongside them in care homes, on the factory floor or construction sites. We strive to anticipate the social, political and ethical possibilities and the challenges, such as privacy and safety, that may arise.
The academics used haptic digital devices – such as the Hey touch or the Cutecircuit Sound Shirt which give the illusion of touch through pressure, vibrations or movement - to develop varied and detailed case studies carried out in labs, galleries and the home.
One case study, Imagining Remote Personal Touch, examined the role of touch in the context of long-distance personal relationships, The Art of Remote Touch created novel environments for people to explore touch together, while In Touch with Baby explored how a new bio-sensing sock shaped parent-infant touch.
Through developing such case studies the IN-TOUCH team have been able to start to predict some impacts of digital touch communication, both technological and societal, to inform and support the design of more socially aware digital touch communication.
IN-TOUCH is a five-year European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator project.
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