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Exploring Mobile Force-Feedback based on Electrical Muscle Stimulation


SPEAKER: Pedro Lopes (Human Computer Interaction Lab, Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Potsdam)


Unlike many other areas in computer science and HCI, force-feedback devices resist miniaturization, because they require physical motors. We propose mobile force-feedback devices based on actuating the user’s muscles using electrical stimulation. Since this allows us to eliminate motors and reduce battery size, our approach results in devices that are substantially smaller and lighter than traditional motor‑based devices.

We present a simple prototype that we mount to the back of a mobile phone. It actuates users’ forearm muscles via four electrodes, causing the muscles to contract involuntarily, so that users tilt the device sideways. As users resist this motion using their other arm, they perceive force‑feedback. We demonstrate the interaction at the example of an interactive videogame in which users try to steer an airplane through winds rendered using force‑feedback.

Finally, we believe our research points out a new direction of how force-feedback can effectively be miniaturized. We expect this to enable new application areas for mobile force-feedback in the future.


Pedro Lopes is a musician and HCI researcher. He is a PhD student of Prof. Patrick Baudisch at the Human Computer Interaction Lab in the Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Potsdam. His research focuses on augmented humans, and novel interaction devices. As a musician, he plays custom-modified turntables and other analogue mediums.

Katrin Wolf


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