Last June, I visited the Eurohaptics conference in Versailles, France. First of all, because research on haptics and haptic technologies are closely related to my work on mediated touch, and second because we submitted an abstract of my graduation work at TNO after which we were invited to give a demonstration. We (Werner de Valk (a former intern and colleague at TNO) and I) gave a demonstration with TNO’s active tangible user interfaces: ‘Sensators’. Moreover, my UT colleagues Gijs, Jan and Dirk visited the conference as well to present a poster with their research on simulated social touch in a collaborative game (hey, mediated touch, cool!)
The conference itself was pretty neat; several interesting talks on haptic-related research and in particular interesting key-notes (although it was a pity that I had to miss the probably most interesting one by Karon MacLean on the second day). The first keynote by Aude Oliva was on the possible combination of different ways of brain-activity measurement and the possible benefits for research on tactile perception. The final keynote by Jörg Sennheiser was about…Sennheiser. And in particular their research on sound perception and the possible translation from knowledge to market; there could be interesting parallels between sound and haptics for that matter. Besides the talks, the coolest part of the conference consisted of the poster-and-demo-sessions each afternoon. Different interesting technologies were presented and as a visitor you were obviously invited to feel these technologies.
As said, we were invited to give a demo ourselves as well. Actually, we had two demo’s combined into one. A demonstration and explanation of the evolution of our (TNO’s) Sensators: Active tangible user interfaces that can provide multimodal feedback (audio, color changes and vibrotactile feedback) and that can be used on a digital tabletop (which we brought to Versailles by the way). Werner explained his research to the visitors as an example of how the Sensators may be applied for research purposes. His studies were about the combination of multimodal feedback with spatial tasks; very interesting.
Of course, we also visited Paris itself where we of course did see the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame. Moreover, we visited Palais de Tokyo for a modern arts exposition, Pierre Hermé’s bakery for some pretty nice macarons and chocolate and the Tour Montparnasse for a neat view over Paris. Of course, we treated ourselves nicely with some good food and wine (and when we didn’t treat ourselves, the Eurohaptics Organisation took good care of us: the conference dinner and drinks, ‘nuf said).
All in all, a very nice experience: nice talks, nice demo’s, nice responses to our demo, nice touristic trips, nice food, nice wine, nice to meet some interesting people and not so nice traffic on the Périphérique.