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HAID conference Sweden


I’m currently at HAID, international conference on haptic and audio interaction design, in Lund (Sweden) to present a short paper  on haptic architecture and design.

The Lund University has an outstanding reputation where it comes to design science. They even have a division (Certec) that merely concentrates on research and education for people with disabilities.

Last year I worked for Bartimeus, institute for blind and visual impaired on a publication ‘architecture through blind eyes’. The book focuses on a more sensible approach to architecture in order to create buildings that are easier to navigate, better to understand and most of all comfortable. We focused on acoustic, haptic and olfactory elements. All design suggestions made, are approached from a design for all perspective; so we focused not only on design applications for blind and visual impaired but all users.

For the HAID conference, I wrote a short abstract based on our research on a more haptic approach on architecture where we stress the importance of tactile cues to distinguish different spaces, tactile pleasures/stimuli and tactile designs that subtlety support navigation, f.e. by making an ‘upwards’ entrance, we experience by our proprioceptic sense (inner feeling) that we are walking towards something.

Haptic research is of growing interest; especially since the widely used smart phones and pads that have strong haptic designs. According to Helen Petri, Lise Meitner Professor, University of Lund and University of York, one of the keynotes of the conference, we will soon enter a haptic area. Although the Stuttgart newspaper forecasted this already in 1999, Petri is of the opinion that 2019 for sure will be a haptic area. That vision is proved by many presentations f.e. with haptic maps; an iphone application that by vibrations, pulses and sounds guides you to your destination. These applications are for sure helpful for blind and visual impaired, but also users without vision problems can benefit, as Charlotte Magnussen, chair of the conference puts it: “People can look around again, instead of looking at their smart phones continuously.”

A strong overlap in all presentations was the research through design approach; almost all speakers strongly believed that design as well as artistic research is very helpful to explore this field.

Also Petri things that a strong phenomenological approach is helpful in this. As was already proved by outstanding tactile researchers in the past, like Louis Braille  (1809-1851) and David Katz (1884-1953). Braille based his ‘dot alphabet’ mainly on learning by doing; and worked for over 7 years on the perfect spacing, thickness and imprints of the dots. American researchers that tried to improve his alphabet a few years later by scientific research, couldn’t fine a tiny detail to add to it.


Published: 28-Aug-2012 14:54


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