#12 Feel the world > Better understanding of perceptual learning on basis of presented interfaces > Antal Ruhl and Michel Witter

© EKV, Foto: Stanley Obobogo

Are you able to adapt to a new sense?

Antal Ruhl and Michel Witter 

Antal Ruhl and Michel Witter arranged a workshop in which students explored new possibilities that tactile interfaces offer to enhance the human sensory system. First, the workshop started with an introduction to the domain of ‘sensory augmentation’; a domain aimed at expanding the human sensorium with ‘additional’ senses.

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Impression of the workshop

Subsequently, two parallel sessions were held where the students (a) were offered a set of physical interfaces that enable the exploration of the world on the basis of such ‘additional’ senses, and (b) were challenged to design future scenarios based on a given modular tactile-output device.

Through the sessions described above, the students joined Avans researchers Antal and Michel in their quest for a better understanding of perceptual learning on the basis of their presented interfaces.

Setup and Findings

The workshop session devised by Michel consisted of three experiments:
Pixel Pusher: Blindfolded tracing a line using a handheld device that translates lo-res visual input into tactile output.
Enactive Torch: Moving through a simple maze, blindfolded, while holding a device that translates physical distance between the user’s hand and objects into tactile output.
Compass Belt: Wearing a belt that communicates magnetic North into a tactile stimulus.

Each experiment was followed by a questionnaire in order to capture the participants’ experiences. During Antal’s session the participants experimented with a tactile device and, in groups, sketched future use scenarios in which tactile stimuli and sensory-substitution play a central role.


The participants enjoyed the theoretical introduction and started off with all presented devices. The data gathered using the questionnaires and scenario sketches help both researcher to fine-tune future experiments with sense-augmenting devices, and offer interesting opportunities for designing purposeful sense-augmenting devices as well as inspiring expressions of personal, sometime intimate, experiences.

Veldonderzoeksleiders Antal Ruhl en Michel Witter zijn beiden lid van de kenniskring Mensgericht Creëren. Antal is docent aan de bacheloropleiding Communication & Multimedia Design bij AI&I in Den Bosch en Michel is docent aan de opleiding Communication & Multimedia Design bij ACUE in Breda.
Antal is industrieel productontwerper en houdt zich binnen het lectoraat bezig met de ontwikkeling van een interface die visuele stimuli vertaalt in voelbare prikkels op de huid, om zodoende visuele ervaringen te verrijken of te vervangen.
Michel is een interaction designer die zich in zijn lectoraatsonderzoek richt op zogeheten ‘embodied interaction’. Binnen dit onderzoek onderzoekt hij de potentie van een fenomenologische benadering van het ontwerpen van interactie. In dit veldonderzoek werden Witter en Ruhl’s onderzoeksuitkomsten gedeeld en werden studenten uitgenodigd om samen nieuwe toepassingen voor die uitkomsten te bedenken.