Haptic Communication in Interactive Systems

This project builds on our  previous work [1] in which we presented a prototype system for communicating information about a real-time music system to human performers using haptic notifications. The system was integrated into a software framework for live electronics (CLEF), allowing users to design tactile notifications for arbitrary parameter states or changes in the system. We informally evaluated the effectiveness of the prototype in collaboration with a percussion performer who helped us designing different tactile cues (see also the Poster section).

In continuation of this work we investigated physical and perceptual characteristics of our tactile display [2].

With our current project, we intend to leverage our previous results and apply them in a professional context for music creation and ensemble performance. We have collaborated with the performers of the Quasar saxophone quartet, and composer Fredrik Gran on a new work which was performed in a public concert at Gesù, Centre de créativité, Montréal. Composition, performance and research aspects have been considered in a holistic approach from the very beginning in order to take full advantage of the possibilities given by our haptic notification system.

The work explores structural and rhythmic relationships of a complexity difficult or impossible to achieve without a multi-user synchronization system (Chafe, Caceres, and Gurevich, 2010). Using our haptic notification system in CLEF it is possible to transmit tactile notifications such as tempo, metric and symbolic information – from system to performers and in response to performer actions — without the need of obtrusive auditory or visual displays.

We have developed a server-client system utilizing tactile displays embedded with vibrating actuators, whose vibrating behavior we previously investigated [2], to assure coherent experience for each performer.


A prototype “tactuator” hardware unit with a connected ERM (eccentric rotating mass) actuator.

Performance and Composer feedback has been very positive, describing the system as flexible and robust. In particular, performers found haptic display of temporal and cue information much superior to auditory or visual communication.

Below are some image of rehearsals with Quasar Quartet, composer Fredrik Gran and co-researcher Marcello Girodano at the “Le Gesù” venue, Montreal.




[1] Schumacher, M., Giordano, M., Wanderley, M. M., & Ferguson, S. (2013). Vibrotactile Notification for Live Electronics Performance: A Prototype System (pp. 516–525). Presented at the 10th International Symposium on Computer Music Multidisciplinary Research, Marseille, France.

[2] Frid, E., Giordano, M., Schumacher, M., & Wanderley, M. M. (2014). Physical and Perceptual Characterization of a Tactile Display for a Live-Electronics Notification System (pp. 1–7). Presented at the Joint International Computer Music, Sound and Music Computing Conference, Athens, Greece.

[3] Giordano, M., & Wanderley, M. M. (2013). Perceptual and Technological Issues in the Design of Vibrotactile-Augmented Interfaces for Music Technology and Media. In (Vol. 7989, pp. 89–98). Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg.