Simulating shape changing interfaces in virtual reality through the use of haptic devices:

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Computer Science


Shape changing interfaces have great potential to revolutionize the way we interact with computers. Not
only changing their shapes to be fully adapted to the human morphology, but also enabling morphing
abilities: when launching a game, a phone would curl its edges to facilitate grasping with two hands.
Designing shape-changing devices is however a complex activity involving designing, developing, and
perfecting such devices and interfaces through the construction and testing of multiple versions. This
results in a lengthy and costly process.
The goal of this project is to overcome these issues by creating simulation tools that can help the creation
of such devices. In particular we will create a platform combining virtual reality, force feedback devices and
simulation software in order to help designers simulate shape-changing devices during the design process.
This will allow for studies into the morphology of the shape changing interfaces and how humans interact
with them without the need to build physical devices beforehand, greatly reducing the costs and time
requirements of the design process.
The objectives of this work are the following:
(1) we will first better understand how human manipulate deformable objects. We will do this through a
series of controlled experiment to quantify the strength/position of forces applied by users when interacting
with deformable objects (e.g. pressing, bending, twisting) as well as understand the relevant haptic
features needed for human to perceive different shapes and materials;
(2) We will then apply these findings to create an innovative force feedback and simulation software
system to be combined with a virtual reality environment. This will allow designers to simulate shapechanging
devices without the need to build them;
(3) We will validate our platform through additional user studies to demonstrate that they improve
productivity and creativity during the design process.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509619/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1834168 Studentship EP/N509619/1 01/01/2017 30/11/2020 Gareth Barnaby