The touch vibration on your smartphone or in console game controllers gives a sense that the task has been done. Soon, tell stories to your kids with a sense of touch or "haptic" effect.
Disney researchers have developed a "feel effect" vocabulary to get that sense of touch in stories using haptic technology that is managed and controlled by embedded software.
They have established a library of 40 "feel effects" matched to descriptions that designers without a deep background in haptic effects can readily understand.
"Currently there are no guidelines to design haptic experience, so we formulated a procedure that associates haptic patterns to events in the story the same way as we describe these events with words and phrases," said Ali Israr, a senior research engineer at Disney Research, Pittsburgh.
The feel effects explored in the study range from common phenomenon, such as heavy rain or light rain, to more specific experiences, such as squeezing into a cockpit or feeling a hamster run across your back.
The researchers began by designing preliminary feel effects for descriptions in everyday language.
Participants read the description, experienced the associated haptics, and then were asked to rate how well each effect matched the description.
"Squeezing into a cockpit" and "squeezing into a cave" were low-scoring effects and some people had a hard time differentiating between an elbow poke and a joystick poke.
The effects were organised into families - rain, multi-legged locomotion, striking, brushing, pulse and motor sounds.
"This enables a designer to pick a desired feel effect and then have some tools to control them... to tune them to a given situation," Israr added.
The library of effects is categorised and described in a way that will help designers develop new sensations as needed.
The study was presented at the ACM Symposium on Applied Perception in Vancouver, Canada.