Expressive Haptic Throw Blanket

Haptics Workshop

Experiment 1: Hello Vibe Motors

First, I tested LRA vibrating motor with Arduino sample “Blink” code. I felt the motor vibrating on my fingertips and the back of my hand. I also tried it on my arm and on the table under my arm to feel the different skin sensing.  I tried it also on my neck and face. I noticed that there are significant differences in the felt frequency when the motor is mounted on glabrous versus hairy skin. I tried with altering the pace of vibration with long and short delays, and I noticed that the vibration pattern was more recognizable with the slower pace. With short delays, it felt as if the vibration is continuous. Then, I tried testing the LRA vibrating motor with the “Fade” example code. I explored creating a different vibration pattern by modifying the code, so that the motor vibrates on even number counts of its intensity and it’s off on odd number counts while it was fading in and out. I tried it on my fingertips and the back of my hand. it wasn’t easy to notice the intensity changes of vibrations. it required a lot of concentration to be able to recognize the fading in and out pattern.


Experiment 2: Motor Arrays

For this experiment, I used multiple vibration motors in order to experiment with sensations that travel on the skin and the propagation of surface waves between a number of motors. I used 2 motors for this experiments and modified the “fade” example to activate them in sequence. I tried placing them on different locations on my fingers, hands and arms to see if I could sense any haptic illusions. Surprisingly, I was able to feel a vibrating line between two vibrators placed on my pinky finger.  I tried to make the two motors to vibrate interchangeably with the modified “fade” code; one that fades with odd number counts, and the other to vibrate with even number counts. It slightly felt like a line was going back and forth between the two vibrating motors placed on my pinky finger.


Experiment 3: Haptic Motor Drivers

For this experiment, we used Adafruit’s haptic motor drivers. I downloaded the Arduino library and tried the “basic” example code that goes through all the driver’s different vibration patterns. I tried also the “complex” example code and played around with different vibration effects to achieve an interesting sequence. I tried randomly many combinations but for me none of the sequences made any specific sense or gave an interesting outcome; they were just trials for different haptic effects.




Haptic Feedback Design Application: Expressive Haptic Throw Blanket


For this workshop, I was interested in Surround Haptics that offer immersive gaming and theater movie experiences.

I propose designing an expressive throw blanket that provides immersive embodied experience in home theater environment through vibro-tactile sensations on the entire body. This haptic blanket is designed to provide smooth tactile motions to intensify emotions and enhance viewers’ movie experiences. The device is meant to be wearable and portable.


I planned to create moving tactile strokes by embedding multiple vibrators on a cozy, flexible, soft, lightweight throw or blanket that is easy to put on, sit on, or wrap your body with, and it’s big enough to fit various body sizes. The vibrators will be equally spaced and arranged in a matrix configuration so that when the blanket is wrapped around the full body, the actuators will be in contact with the full body: the shoulder, back, hip, thigh, knee, shin, back of the legs, upper arm, lower arm, palms of the hand, and stomach. Obviously, vibrations on cloth covered body areas will be less noticeable, so the frequency and power of vibrations should be somehow strong enough to be sensed. The goal is to create illusion of tactile sensation in order to make the movie viewer feel immersed by haptic sense. The haptic effects should flood the user’s entire body.



Flexible haptic throw blanket can be sat on or wrapped with while watching a movie for an enhanced immersive emotional experience.




Coding and Testing Materials:

Arduino Uno

SparkFun KY-038 Sound Sensor

LRA vibrating motor

Adafruit haptic motor driver

5mm LED – Red

5mm LED – Yellow

5mm LED – Blue

3x 10K ohm resistors




Circuit Schema


The haptic sensation for this project will be based on the Adafruit haptic motor driver effects, meaning that the vibration pattern is identified by the volume and intensity of perceived sound. Using Arduino code, I programed the device to be synchronized with spatial sounds using a sound sensor. The haptic device will respond to 3 different volume thresholds, and for each threshold a different vibration effect is actuated. For low volume sounds the vibration pattern will be smooth and short, for medium volume sounds the vibration pattern is moderate with medium intensity, and for higher volumes the vibration will get longer and more intense. I also included 3 different colors of LED lights as a visual representation for testing purposes.

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It’s my first time to work with Sound detection sensors, and they can be very useful for many ambient environmental designs where sound, lighting and haptics can be all synchronized in real time. I found it challenging to create detailed tactile sensations that reflects movie events. For this project, I used general vibrations or pulses predefined in the Adafruit Motor Driver, however, the haptic feedback pattern is not synchronized with a specific movie narrative or its peak moments.

This prototype can be applied for many other examples other than immersive theatre experiences. It can be interesting if it’s used when listening to music while relaxing on a couch or bed, where you can feel the tones of musical instruments moving along your body. Also it can be very useful for deaf people where they can be notified of door knocking or any other alarming sounds that might occur.

Next Steps:

For the future, to design a more sophisticated haptic throw blanket, we can make the haptic effects to feel more realistic by recording tactile signals from the real environment and assigning them to prerecorded sound effects. Then, sound effects can be mapped corresponding to each part of the body so the user feels as if the sounds run through the body. These ideas require more skills and further research in order to be achievable.

References: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Israr, Ali, Seung-Chan Kim, Jan Stec, and Ivan Poupyrev. “Surround Haptics: Tactile Feedback for Immersive Gaming Experiences.”ACM, 2012. doi:10.1145/2212776.2212392.






Keep Walking!

Slow Technology Activities

During class workshop we worked on preparing thermochromic items; we dyed thermochromatic fabrics and resistive threads, painted fabric with acrylic mixed thermochromic pigments, and made our own screenprinting templates. Later, we sewed thermochromic threads to dyed and painted fabrics to test slow technology when actuated by heat.

We studied Pulse Width Modulation that is used to vary the output power between 0 and 255. Then, we experimented this feature with an LED light using Arduino “fading” sketch to make it fade in and out and then we tested making it fade faster and slower by modifying the increment value. We tested PMW again with for a slow vibration motor using vibration_PWM.ino sketch.

 Class workshop documentation:







Ambient Device Concept


I want to design an ambient notification device that aim to improve daily walking activities. This can be achieved by making a smart carpet with embedded resistive pressure sensors to detect our gaits. When someone walks across the carpet, the sensors actuate notifications.  The slow technology I’m proposing will use weaved Shape Memory Alloys, looks like a wire mesh textile, to create a wall sized ambient display that gives info about people walking activity via 3D volumetric morphology. This informative art piece is best to be hanged on the wall of the main living room of the house.

Because I don’t have shape memory alloy available, I tested gradual actuation using thermochromic fabric and threads for ambient  notification. The same logic and programming code applies for gradual actuations in shape memory alloys. Below are some resources for researches done by others, in addition to inspirational images that explain the trajectory of my design intentions.

SMA Smocking

Functional textiles driven by transforming NiTi wires

Inspirational images of wire mesh sculptural art by Eric Boyer and Bonnie Shanas



Thermo‐responsive shape memory alloys are able to adopt a temporary configuration and return to their programmed physical shape when heated to a determined activation temperature.

SMAs are treated to memorize their shape at considerably high temperatures (450 C – 550 C).  To get to an aesthetically sculptural form, the woven wires can be fixed to a cast and then placed in the furnace for 15 minutes in order to memorize its artistic volumetric form.

This informative art is displayed whenever family members are walking around in  the house. When people are inactive, the sculptures will look flat and dull. When the art piece looks dull, then it’s a reminder to get up and have a small walk to bring back its beauty. Technically, when there’s no electric current, the corners of the art piece will be pulled away slowly through a pulley mechanism to flatten the sculpture. And when the sensors are activated by people walking on the smart carpet, this will actuate the SMAs to gradually shrink back to their memorized sculptural form. The shrinking force must be greater than the pulling force.  With this slow ambient notification device household members are encouraged to keep walking in order to maintain the aesthetics of the 3D wall art.

Circuit schematics:


Arduino Code:



Next steps:

This project explores ways to make wall art and sculptures alive, interactive and functional. I aim to make a higher fidelity prototype to be tested at all different stages. first stage is weaving the SMA nitinol wires, then try training them to give them a 3D cultural form. I also want to explore options and mechanisms for flattening the sculptures when they’re not actuated. Wiring and connections should be well studied and hidden in order to enhance the aesthetic visuals.

Panic Attack Sensor

 I’d like to design a biofeedback device that is a stress management tool for people suffering from panic attacks or anxiety disorders. It is a device designed for self-reflection that make a person aware of one’s own feeling.

Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath. The symptoms are sudden, frightening, and difficult to manage. They typically reach their peak within ten minutes and resolve within thirty minutes. Deep slow breathing, coping statements and distractions help to shift focus from this overwhelming situation.


I will use a breath sensor that detects a panic attack through the symptom of shortness of breath. The device should interact by distracting the individual from a fearful situation by engaging the person in a multi-sensory experience through producing sounds and scents for a calming ambient.

The device will be a band that wraps around the diaphragm. Stretching the band will trigger a lavender scent to be released from an embedded essential oil cartridge, and will play a deep calming slow breathing sound track to AirPods speakers that are wirelessly controlled.


Initially I was aiming to use the Eeonyx Stretch Fabric sensor. In class and with the DIY_analog_senor.ino Arduino code, I measured the variable resistance at rest and when stretched to determine the minimum and maximum sensor values. The minimum value at rest was 60, and the Maximum value when stretched was 140.




Then, because of the limited supply of the Eeonyx Stretch Fabric, plans changed and I decided to use Rubber Stretch sensors instead. I went through measuring the variable resistance at rest and when stretched again to determine the minimum and maximum sensor values of that resistive material. Surprisingly, the resistance increases when the rubber is stretched, so when stretched the minimum sensor value was 480, and at rest the maximum value was 685.


Serial Monitor images below show readings of the rubber sensor values at rest and when stretched.



The Rubber stretch sensor is sewed to the interior side of a tank top. It is attached to an elastic band that is situated under the chest and wrapping around the breathing diaphragm. I intended to embed the sensors and wiring being invisible to make them feel more personal for self reflection.







Testing the prototype:



This prototype promises to interact by producing a qualitative effect that is a calming personal ambient for individuals to relax and be mindful of their own situation. When the breath sensor is activated the algorithm sends current to the Lavender oil cartridge to release a calming subtle scent, and also sends a current to a recorder to play a slow breathing sound track to co-perform with the individual as a way to guide for a deep relaxed breath. The device responds to a panic attack event and waits 5 minutes before repeating the loop. This delay allows the individual to have time to react and relax before repeating the loop of dispensing scent and producing sound.




Next Steps

I’m investigating in ways in giving authority to the individual with this breath sensor biofeedback device. That might be achieved by controlling the aromas and intensity of the released essential oils, and also by having control of playing, stopping or changing the sound track.

Information sources:

Corset Breathing Sensor









Interactive Massage Gloves

The objective of this workshop is to test resistive materials and analyze how they can be used as soft sensors.

First, we measured and recorded resistance values of all materials with a multimeter, and then measured their sensor values with voltage divider circuit and Arduino using “Analog ReadSerial” example; both at rest and when activated.


For Eeonyx StaTex Conductive Fiber and Eeonyx Stretch Sensing Textile we attached alligator clips directly to materials on both sided. For Velostat and Eonyx pressure sensing textile, we assembled contact pads with conductive tapes on either face to allow testing through pressing the resistive material.

Resistance values were read with the multimeter, and sensor analog values (0-1024) were read in the Arduino serial monitor.

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  • Velostat reduces resistance when pressed or flexed. It’s pressure-sensitive and pressing it makes it highly conductive.
  • Eeonyx Pressure Sensing Fabric reduces resistance when pressed
  • Eeonyx StaTex Conductive Fiber reduces resistance when squished.
  • Eeonyx Stretch Sensing Textile reduces resistance when stretched

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Create a Body-Centric Sensor Design, focusing on sensor construction and sensor calibration.


I worked towards designing an interactive smart massage gloves that have the ability to manipulate the ambient of the treatment room. The advantage of the interactive glove is that it gives the therapist the ability to control lighting remotely and simultaneously depending on the patient’s state while under treatment. The therapist can increase or decrease force on specific pressure points on the treated body to reflect muscle tension and therefore produce a relaxing ambient that will calm the patient. I constructed sensors for three fingers: thumb, middle finger and pinky finger. I had plans to give every finger the control of a different feature (such as light, sound, and scent), or of 3 different light locations in the room.


 Sensor Design Materials

  • Velostat
  • Felt material
  • Conductive fabric
  • Latex gloves
  • Conductive thread
  • Sewing thread & Needles
  • Arduino Uno and Bread board
  • 10k ohm fixed resistors
  • LED lights (blue, red, yellow)
  • Alligator clips and jumper wires

I constructed 3 pressure sensors using Velostat as it’s a force sensitive resistor.  the velostat was sandwiched between 2 layers of conductive fabric in the interior and felt in the exterior.

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Each sensor was attached to the corresponding finger on the sanitized latex gloves using sewing thread. Then conductive threads ran down along the fingers to be connected to the microcontroller. For the experiment purposes, I attached them from outside, but ideally they should be invisible and embedded inside the glove’s fingertips.


For the time being, I experimented with the thumb to control the intensity of one LED light.


I realized that the sensor is very sensitive and the LED light was always on, even without poking it. So, I had to control the relation between pressure and light intensity and this was by uploading Calibration sketch to Arduino in order to be able to map the minimum sensor value to 0, and the maximum sensor value to 255. I modified the code to allow it to print the sensor values on the serial monitor to watch the changes in relation to light intensity.

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Click on the links below to watch videos of the experiment:



From this experiment I learned a great deal with Arduino. I had lots of failures during my experiments. I went through many trials and errors with the sensor assembly, with the circuits and with the code. I learned that Velostat is highly sensitive and conductive, and it’s tricky to control. Also, using latex gloves wasn’t a great idea as they’re delicate and not durable. The process of experimenting with one sensor and one LED light can be duplicated to be tested with the other two sensors and whatever desired ambient feature to be manipulated.

Information sources:

Next Steps:

For next steps, I wish to work more on the aesthetics of the interactive gloves, that is by hiding the sensors inside the gloves and by choosing a more comfortable, durable and visually appealing material. Next I want to learn how to manipulate the lights remotely by researching wireless applications and studying the required software and hardware systems to achieve a successful end result.


Pressure Activated E-Tie



Through the ideation activity, I end up choosing the concept created with the words (tie, hugging, suddenly). I proposed to design an e-tie that is a hug sensor that measures pressure and intensity of hugging with others.



Deep pressure hugs with partners, family and friends calm people and reduce stress and anxiety. A deep pressure hug would turn a light on or produce a melody on this e-tie. With this type of a tie we can use that information to understand how people approach each other in public or private

I created a push button sensor using knitting technique for creating this pressure activated accessory. I Also used French knitting technique to create a conductive cord for the circuit. Learning knitting skills wasn’t an easy task, it required a lot of patience and accuracy. I followed video tutorials to learn beginner steps. I challenged myself and I tried many samples and repeated and practiced it until I got the hang of it. I struggled with French knitting a lot more. I had to practice without the conductive thread because it was causing a lot of tangling and very tight stitches. Afterwards, knitting with the conductive thread became possible.


E-Tie design sketches



Knitting process

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Completed knitted parts

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Testing the circuit

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Final Prototype

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This experiment taught me not only knitting skills, but also how to knit a yarn with a conductive thread and treat them as one thread. I explored different knitting techniques to produce different kinds of stitches, some of them were successful and some weren’t, but this resulted in creating an ironic textured patterned tie design. I learned also how to connect a circuit through many trials and errors and that made me understand short circuits, cut or non-conductive ones, closed circuits, and positive and negative sides of a battery in relation to the LED light in order to light it up. It’s my first time to work with electronics and all this information and findings are new to me. I will definitely do more projects with electronics and sensors, and apply this knowledge to create interactive interior environments for my thesis projects.

Information sources: None

Next Steps:

I would like to take this designed wearable accessory further and make it interactive through computation. I propose that the wearer can be able to control the intensity of physical contact with others. They can set the ideal pressure for a hug, and then if the hugger exceeds that limit, a special sound would be produced informing the hugger that a too tight squeezing hug is becoming unpleasant, so they will loosen up or break free. The sensor allows the wearer to feel comfortable knowing that a limit has been set and they’re in control of it.