A Tactile Emotional Interface for Instant Messenger Chat

  • Heesook Shin
  • Junyoung Lee
  • Junseok Park
  • Youngjae Kim
  • Hyunjoo Oh
  • Taehwa Lee
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4558)


Instant Messaging (IM) is becoming as the dominant means of communication over the Internet. The popularity of IM has led to significant developments in the sophistication of the software. There have been a number of attempts to deliver emotional content through IM.The sense of touch has been a focus in a number of these research projects [1], [2], but there have been no implementations of tactile IM that have successfully bridged the gap to public, widely deployed use. In this paper, we describe a tactile interface designed to convey emotional content and focused on intuitive input and sensorial output methods to be applied in a public IM client. The initial stage of this research involved a fundamental investigation into IM usage patterns. We distributed a questionnaire to gain insight into user’s requirements, and received completed results from 79 people in their twenties (32 male and 47 female). Regarding how the tactile stimulus should be integrated into the environment, 50% felt a mouse (26%), a glove (14%), or a keyboard (10%) based display would be appropriate and afford easy physical contact during IM. Furthermore, they expressed a desire for tools to enable them to easily author their own tactile sensations. From the data gathered in this survey we developed a design concept for the physical interface. And we selected a set of emoticons most used in IM and defined both tactile and visual information to help emotional expression for each emoticon. We named these enhanced emoticons TCONs (TouchCON, Touch Emoticon). We defined 6 TCONs and 3 intuitive tangible input methods. We played our TCONs on a physical interface device, called the TCON Display, during public IM. The TCON Display consisted of three components, two devices shaped like cartoon hands, the other like a pair of lips. These devices included various output and input systems: vibrating motors, pin actuators, Heat coil, pressure sensors, buttons and LEDs. We also implemented a TCON Editor to allow users to create TCONs and for testing our research. The TCON was applied to a public IM system, NateOn, just like graphical emoticons. We tested the TCONs and tactile emotional interface system with 12 users test in their twenties (6 male and 6 female) and received a positive response.


Instant Messaging (IM) Emotional Interface Sensorial Interface Intuitive Input Tactile Output 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heesook Shin
    • 1
  • Junyoung Lee
    • 1
  • Junseok Park
    • 1
  • Youngjae Kim
    • 2
  • Hyunjoo Oh
    • 2
  • Taehwa Lee
    • 2
  1. 1.Smart Interface Research Team, Post PC Research Group, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, 161 Gajeong-dong, Yuseong-gu, DaejeonKorea
  2. 2.Digital Media Lab, Information and Communications University, 517-10 Dogok-dong, Gangnam-gu, SeoulKorea

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