A new study conducted at the University of Sussex puts texting emojis to shame when it comes to sending emotions through cyberspace. While a little winking smiley face or picture of a fried shrimp may convey some idea of how one preteen girl is feeling to her (as of two days and three hours) preteen boyfriend, researchers are looking to take the guessing game out of the equation.
Ultrahaptics is the new science that links touch sensation with emotions. For example, by stroking the index finger towards the thumb, the feeling of happiness is perceived. Sussex scientists are simulating touch sensation through ultrasound technology to trigger desired emotions. Participants in the study have identified all seven emotions through touch: surprise, fear, disgust, pensiveness, anger, joy and sadness.
Originally the study involved shaking hands with a robotic joystick that would interact with the human hand in different ways to stimulate different emotions. The result was study participants accurately perceiving the emotion twice as often as if guessing the emotion randomly. The Ultrahaptics was then created to send the same touch sensations through mid-air.
The goal for this developing technology is to create a wearable device that will transmit these sensations from user to user. Much like how the Apple Watch is capable of sending sensory notifications to the wearer when they receive a text message or email, a haptic device could send sensory stimulated emotions. The one-to-many concept is another possibility for this science. In application, a horror movie could intentionally trigger fear to movie-goers or a comedian trigger joy in their audience.
This kind of technology is not unheard of or far-fetched since wearable technology is an affluent trend as smart phones, smart watches, and Bluetooth devices gain prevalence in the market. In five or ten years, long-distance relationships and preteen texting scandals may get a helping virtual hand in dealing with emotional communication.