As a follow up to my first project, I want to translate visual information into haptic sensations. To do this, I decided to observe the water flowing in Munichs ISAR river.
By looking at the water’s flow, depth and speed, I want to create a physical river model that uses haptic effects to make those variables “feelable”.
I started by experimenting with clay, because it is very flexible in its usage and would get me quick results and immediate response.
The curved lines on my first experiments seem the most natural to translate a feeling of water, but actually don’t work so well in transmitting the information I want. But even more, my fingers wouldn’t get a strong haptic response at all while stroking along these lines.
I figured the best way for me is to use edgy carvings in varying intervals to reproduce speed and flow direction of the river water.
- The faster the water flows, the narrower I arranged the carvings and vice versa.
- The edgy side of the carvings shows that you are stroking against the flow.
- The water depth is translated by the relief in the carving.
My first attempt looked as follows.
The haptic translation worked well, but I had one major problem with the clay: time.
I had an additional idea in mind for the model that involved having water on top of the model for two reasons:
- oviously having the beholders skin touching the water while experiencing the water’s properties
- hiding the pattern to emphasize the haptic and removing the visual sensations
To create this effect, I had to fire the clay to prevent it from dissolving by the water. But because of time issues, I couldn’t let the clay dry out fast enough to be able to fire it and couldn’t use it for that reason…
I had to find another solution, so instead of clay I decided to use water resistant modeling foam and carve out the river bed.
Carving into the foam created these beautiful wavelike patterns that seemed to be perfect for my experiment. So I decided to use these and try out different haptic responses than in the clay model.
Wavey and irregular carvings were now used to express slow flowing water as it makes your fingers move along slower while stroking. Fast water is defined by perfectly plain areas.
The direction of water flow is indicated by little bumps that you can only feel while stroking in one direction, thus signaling “going against the flow”.
I then sprayed the model and added acrylic glas to contain the water.
As I tested the final result with water in the model, I realised that the water that was being agitated by the moving hand actually created a wave going back and forth, adding an information layer by showing the natural movement of water to the beholder.
(video to expect soon)