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‘Haptic emojis’ can convey emotions through simulated touch

Illustration of real and virtual hands reaching for each other
Jan 19 2022

By Gordy Slack

Sometimes, a simple touch can say more than a carefully crafted sentence; a gentle squeeze of the arm or pat on the hand may convey as much reassurance as a room full of words.

So, in this new age of telemedicine and virtual socializing, scientists are taking a special interest in technology that can bring these sorts of important physical cues back into our lives. They call it "haptic communication," which harnesses applications that convey simulated touch between people who aren't in the same place.

Researchers have developed a simple sleeve worn on the forearm through which they hope to remotely communicate basic emotions, such as happiness or sadness, via touch. The work, first reported in an article by Stanford Engineering staff, was led by professor of mechanical engineering Allison Okamura and published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Haptics.

Read more at the Stanford Scope Blog