Intimate Mobiles

For making a phone call, there are two major reasons. The first reason is information exchange – and speech, as mobile phones in their current form enable it, is well-suited for that. The second reason, however, is a need for nearness – it is the need for being in touch. To explore this field, we developed three prototypes that investigate future visions of physically being in touch through mobile phones.
We propose three new channels of communication for mobile phones – tightness, moisture and airflow. All means are explored through mobile phone-shaped and -sized boxes, which are equipped with the necessary actuators.

Tightness

The ‘grasping mobile’ is equipped with a motor on its inside that allows for a widening loop to be extended and pulled towards the mobile phone’s back side. This loop can be placed around the user’s hand, allowing for an actuation of tightness.
For instance, this system enables users to telecommunicate through hand grasp while talking. Through force sensors on the phone’s sides the grasp’s intensity can be sensed, and is then reproduced by the loop around the other user’s hand. The system also allows for drop prevention through software-controlled adhesiveness. For instance, the phone can be affixed to the user’s hand while engaging in bodily activities, while making privacy-critical actions, or while playing a game that requires movements of the phone.

Wetness

The ‘crying phone’ is an investigation into moisture as a means of interaction in mobile phones. It is equipped with a semipermeable membrane and a motorized sponge that can be pressed against the membrane.
The sponge is connected to a nearby water pump, and a moisture sensor on the phone’s front side serves as the corresponding input. The system allows for the usage of liquids as an interactive means, and also can telecommunicate a kiss over a distance.

Airflow

This prototype – the ‘whispering phone’ – is equipped with a set of air jets, allowing for a different types of air stream output. The jets allow for the reproduction of the caller’s nostril airstreams and for the air involved in speech (including guttural and plosive sounds).
The air jet can also be used as a system for tactile feedback, to reject the user’s finger (e.g. when performing a critical action, such as deleting a file or contact) or to attract the user’s finger (e.g. as a guide towards an action that is recommended, such as confirming a default setting).
Combined with the phone’s microphone, to serve as a distance sensor for the user’s finger with active haptic feedback.


Publications

Intimate Mobiles: Organic Actuation through Pressure, Moisture, and Atmosphere in Mobile Phones

Hemmert, Fabian, Gollner, Ulrike, Löwe, Matthias, Wohlauf, Anne, and Joost, Gesche 2010. Intimate Mobiles: Organic Actuation through Pressure, Moisture, and Atmosphere in Mobile Phones. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Organic User Interfaces (Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, January 23rd, 2011). OUI ’11.


Intimate Mobiles: Near-Body Telepresence through Tightness, Wetness and Airflow in Mobile Phones

Hemmert, Fabian, Gollner, Ulrike, Löwe, Matthias, Wohlauf, Anne, and Joost, Gesche 2010. Intimate Mobiles: Near-Body Telepresence through Tightness, Wetness and Airflow in Mobile Phones. In Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Erotic Life in HCI (Reyjkavik, Iceland, October 16th, 2010). Erotic HCI ’10.



Research by

Research
Dr.-Ing. Fabian Hemmert

Dr.-Ing. Fabian Hemmert is a design researcher. Born and raised in Gütersloh, he studied Computer Science/Media Design at the University of Bielefeld (B.Sc.) and Interface Design at the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences (M.A.).
Assistance
Anne Wohlauf

Anne Wohlauf is an interaction designer and has been working at the design research lab since 2008. Her research interests are tangible interaction, digital education and identity management. Currently, she is working on several projects with the Bundesdruckerei GmbH, exploring the future of identity and security.
Assistance
Matthias Löwe

Matthias Löwe is engaged in workshops, talks and festivals of the Initiative Creative Gaming to establish an artistic and creative use of games by kids. As an interaction designer, he is researching playful interaction and procedural rhetoric. He is also staging gamejams, interactive theater and various gameculture-events with Gamestorm Berlin, shows game movies at the monthly Night of Machinima and co-organizes A MAZE. events like the first European and first African indiegamefestival. Matthias joined the Design Research Lab Berlin in summer 2008 and is now coordinating this year’s Code Week initiatives in Germany.
Assistance
Ulrike Gollner

Ulrike Gollner is a User Experience Designer and researcher with a background in computer science and media arts.
Supervision
Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost

Gesche Joost is Professor for Design Research at the University of the Arts Berlin and since 2005 heading the Design Research Lab.