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Touchless Haptic Experiences with Neurocognitive AI

Objective

Our society is experiencing an increasing lack of social tactile interactions, due in part to increased virtualisation and the growth of digital networks, and recently magnified by social distancing measures. Sadly, many people now feel like the society described in the 1990s science fiction movie Demolition Man, where physical contact was prevented and heavily sanctioned. The increased virtualisation of our social interactions feeds our hunger for touch, the lack of which can lead to profoundly negative consequences. Interpersonal touch grounds social relations between people, with distinct patterns of tactile interaction between parent-infant dyads, adult life-partners, friends, teachers and professional colleagues and acquaintances.
Although touch is vital for how we feel and interact with our environments and is foundational for our emotional well-being, most haptic technologies have focused on functional aspects. All major haptics companies use touch to help users improve task completion, discriminate among shapes or textures, and grasp virtual objects. In contrast, social touch typically involves the stimulation of non-glabrous (hairy) parts of the skin while also affecting nociceptors (pain) and thermoreceptors (temperature). These C-tactile (CT) afferents underpin the experience of affective touch, and the pleasant sensations associated with social interactions such as caresses. Thus, current technology neither satisfy our need for touch, nor draw on recent progress in understanding social touch.
Our ambition is to go beyond functional haptic technology and enable computer systems to intelligently create the experiences lost in the virtual transition. Those experiences include agency, bonding, and attachment.
We will develop the next generation of touchless haptic technologies using neurocognitive models and a novel artificial intelligence (AI) framework. Without having physical contact, users will receive affective, social and cognitive touch sensations.

Call for proposal

H2020-FETPROACT-2020-2
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Funding Scheme

RIA - Research and Innovation action

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
Address
Gower Street
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 334 118,75

Participants (5)

KOBENHAVNS UNIVERSITET
Denmark
EU contribution
€ 898 675
Address
Norregade 10
1165 Kobenhavn
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
ULTRALEAP LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 876 650
Address
West Wing Glass Wharf
BS2 0EL Bristol
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
UNIVERSIDAD PUBLICA DE NAVARRA
Spain
EU contribution
€ 655 846,25
Address
Campus De Arrosadia
31006 Pamplona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
SOFTSERVE POLAND SP ZOO
Poland
EU contribution
€ 607 250
Address
Jaworska 11-13
53 612 Wroclaw
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
CROWDHELIX LIMITED
Ireland
EU contribution
€ 101 875
Address
Trinity House 7 Georges Quay
T12NAX0 Cork
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)