April 21, 2018

Coding Tactile Symbols for Phonemic Communication

Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)

By: Siyan Zhao, Ali Israr, Frances Lau, Freddy Abnousi


We present a study to examine one’s learning and processing capacity of broadband tactile information, such as that derived from speech. In Study 1, we tested a user’s capability to recognize tactile locations and movements on the forearm in the presence of masking stimuli and determined 9 distinguishable tactile symbols. We associated these symbols to 9 phonemes using two approaches, random and articulation associations. Study 2 showed that novice participants can learn both associations. However, performance for retention, construction of words and knowledge transfer to recognize unlearned words was better with articulation association. In study 3, we trained novel participants to directly recognize words before learning phonemes. Our results show that novel users can retain and generalize the knowledge to recognize new words faster when they were directly train on words. Finally, Study 4 examined optimal presentation rate for the tactile symbols without compromising learning and recognition rate