User Expectations and Mental Models for Communicating Emotions through Compressive & Warm Affective Garment Actuation

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Wearable haptic garments for communicating emotions have great potential in various applications, including supporting social interactions, improving immersive experiences in entertainment, or simply as a research tool. Shape-memory alloys (SMAs) are an emerging and interesting actuation scheme for affective haptic garments since they provide coupled warmth and compressive sensations in a single actuation-potentially acting as a proxy for human touch. However, SMAs are underutilized in current research and there are many unknowns regarding their design/use. The goal of this work is to map the design space for SMA-based garment-mediated emotional communication through warm, compressive actuation (termed 'warm touch'). Two online surveys were deployed to gather user expectations in using varying 'warm touch' parameters (body location, intensity, pattern) to communicate 7 distinct emotions. Further, we also investigated mental models used by participants during the haptic strategy selection process. The findings show 5 major categories of mental models, including representation of body sensations, replication of typical social touch strategies, metaphorical representation of emotions, symbolic representation of physical actions, and mimicry of objects or tasks; the frequency of use of each of these mental frameworks in relation to the selected 'warm touch' parameters in the communication of emotions are presented. These gathered insights can inform more intuitive and consistent haptic garment design approaches for emotional communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3448097
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 29 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 ACM.


  • Affective Haptics
  • Compression Feedback
  • Emotion Communication
  • Emotion Elicitation
  • Haptic Garments
  • Mediated Social Touch
  • Shape Memory Alloys
  • Wearable Technology


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