Philipp Schoessler

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Any shadow casted by an object can be felt through touch.


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Visitors' can use their body to create and feel shadows.


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Touching the shadow of someone else's body creates interesting intimate situations.


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Different objects can have shadows that feel differently.


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We can keep the shadow alive even in the dark.


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The haptic shadow is created using a special electrovibration hardware.


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We use computer vision to detect if someone is touching the shadow of an object.


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Electrovibration creates the sensation of changing friction when one drags the finger over the table's surface.


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The setup consists of a spotlight, a table ...


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... and two chairs that are equiped with the electrovibration software.


Feeling Absence

2012

– haptic, augmented

Feeling Absence is an interactive installation that allows visitors to feel real shadows through touch. It explores enhancing the perception of reality with additional sensory modalities. Shadows are an absence of light. Created by objects blocking the light, they disappear once an object is taken away or the light is turned off. Although immaterial, the shadows nevertheless are an important part of the material world. They are everywhere. They belong to objects and are attached to them: they move whenever the object casting the shadow moves.

Can shadows become material objects in themselves? Can we add materiality to shadows and let people feel them through touch? Would they become even more real? Can we disconnect shadows from the objects that create them; make them exist independently and persistently? The Feeling Absence installation consists of a table and two opposing chairs in a dark room. The table is brightly lit so that objects placed on the table cast prominent hard shadows on its surface. Once the visitors take a seat on one of the instrumented chairs they can touch and feel the shadows that are cast on the table.

The visitors can create shadows by using objects provided in the Feeling Absence installation but they also can create shadows by using their bodies and personal artifacts, such as accessories or mobile phones. As soon as they slide their fingers across those shadows they would feel prominent tactile textures on the smooth table surface. The tactile feedback is produced using a novel tactile feedback technology, called electrovibraiton that we describe later. Thus, in the Feeling Absence installation, the shadows gain a materiality and can be experienced and explored through touch, just like 'real' objects.

Credits:
This project was created at Disney Research Pittsburgh together with Olivier Bau and Ivan Poupyrev.


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