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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: New tech conveys emotional touch long-distance


With in-person outings and events back in full swing, there hardly seems to be a need for the technology described in this Scientific American article: a wearable sleeve that simulates the feeling of physical touch. Nonetheless, we are likely to be apart from loved ones sometimes and researchers at Stanford University developed the technology so perhaps one day people can send a supportive gesture in addition to texting or calling. “It’s a unique work that looks at how our social touch is delivered, and then … how to reproduce it,” said Gregory Gerling, a touch researcher at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. After gathering initial data on “touch movements,” including squeezes, strokes and shakes that expressed different sentiments, a machine learning algorithm was trained to respond to six different scenarios and the wearable sleeve was programmed to simulate the touch using embedded disks that would be electronically signaled. In testing, study participants could identify what the touch was expressing about 45% of the time.

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