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Senior Project

Making a Home Tactile Map

Recommended by Kate Rutter, I took Rob Walker's advice in The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy and mapped out the perception of my home with the sense of touch.

Before I started the investigation, I looked around my house: there is literally no natural objects! Well, except for the last three oranges in the fruit basket. My house suddenly became a depressing place to live in after this realization.

The objects and notes I took when touching them.

Here are some particular observations I have in my investigation.

Representations of micro vs. macro hardness.
  • The first impression of tactile quality sometimes differ from its actual hardness. When I tap on the character sculpture on the TV table, it felt like a soft material. When I press it down, it turned to be harder than I thought. Surprisingly, I found the ceramic cup quite soft in my hands, even though it’s pretty hard. It’s mysterious, but I kept receiving the same feeling after touching the cup multiple times.
  • When I close my eyes and focus at the tactile sense, it’s quite comfortable to touch some objects. (I kept rubbing the blanket in my living room for two minutes.) In my notes, I described it as “friendliness.” It might be a mixture of many variables, and it’s quite magical to imagine if these objects want to be touched by humans or not.
  • When a texture gets too rough on my fingers, it feels as if the object is irritated and angry. I encountered it when I swiped on the dryer sheets.

Based on my feelings (……), I produced a set of overly generalized tactile map of my home.

The tactile map of my home.

The tactile sensation is probably one of the most ignored senses in interaction design, and I’m surprised how powerful it is at producing emotional influence. When I tried to describe the tactile feelings, many of my words are extremely subjective. The physical contact elicits stronger emotion than I anticipated. I’m happy that I picked the investigation and got to be more aware of its significance.