Improvements in the learnability of smartphone haptic interfaces for visually impaired users

Autoři: F. J. González-Cañete aff001;  J. L. López Rodríguez aff001;  P. M. Galdón aff001;  A. Díaz-Estrella aff001
Působiště autorů: Department of Electronic Technology, University of Malaga, Campus de Teatinos, Malaga, Spain aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225053


We report the results of a study on the learnability of haptic icons used as alerts or notifications in smartphones. The aim was to explore the feasibility of using haptic icons to create assistive technologies for people with visual impairments. We compared the performance and satisfaction of users with different visual capacities (visually impaired vs. sighted) and using different learning processes (with or without a reinforcement learning stage). The reinforcement learning stage improves the recognition rate in both types of users, although the improvement obtained by the visually impaired users is even better as their recognition rates become very similar to those obtained by the sighted users. Finally, it was observed that the better recognized haptic icons are those assigned to the most employed applications by the user.

Klíčová slova:

Cell phones – Human learning – Learning – Tactile sensation – Vibration – Vibration engineering – Vision – Visual impairments


1. Haptics White Paper : Improving the Mobile User Experience through Touch [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2019 Jan 23].

2. Immersion and LG Electronics Expand Business Relationship to Include HD TouchSense Technology [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2019 Jan 23].

3. The science behind Force Touch and the Taptic Engine [Internet]. [cited 2019 Jan 23].

4. Good Vibrations [Internet]. [cited 2019 Feb 22].

5. Rantala J, Raisamo R, Lylykangas J, Surakka V, Raisamo J, Salminen K, et al. Methods for Presenting Braille Characters on a Mobile Device with a Touchscreen and Tactile Feedback. IEEE Trans Haptics. 2009;2(1):28–39. doi: 10.1109/TOH.2009.3 27788094

6. Csapó Á, Wersényi G, Nagy H, Stockman T. A survey of assistive technologies and applications for blind users on mobile platforms: a review and foundation for research. J Multimodal User Interfaces. 2015;9(4):275–86.

7. Hoggan E, Crossan A, Brewster S, Kaaresoja T. Audio or tactile feedback: Which modality when? In: Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Boston, USA; 2009. p. 2253–6.

8. Brewster S, Brown LM. Tactons: Structured tactile messages for non-visual information display. In: 5th Australasian User Interface Conference. Dunedin, New Zealand; 2004. p. 18–22.

9. Maclean K, Enriquez M. Perceptual design of haptic icons. In: Eurohaptics 2003. Dublin, UK; 2003. p. 351–63.

10. María Galdón P, Ignacio Madrid R, De La Rubia-Cuestas EJ, Diaz-Estrella A, Gonzalez L. Enhancing mobile phones for people with visual impairments through haptic icons: The effect of learning processes. Assist Technol. 2013;25(2):80–7. doi: 10.1080/10400435.2012.715112 23923690

11. Gallace A, Tan HZ, Spence C. The Body Surface as a Communication System: The State of the Art after 50 Years. Presence. 2007;16(6):655–76.

12. Gallace A, Spence C. The cognitive and neural correlates of tactile memory. Psychol Bull. 2009;135(3):380–406. doi: 10.1037/a0015325 19379022

13. Ternes D, MacLean KE. Designing large sets of Haptic icons with rhythm. In: EuroHaptic 2008. Berlin, Germany; 2008. p. 199–208.

14. Azadi M, Jones LA. Evaluating vibrotactile dimensions for the design of tactons. IEEE Trans Haptics. 2014;7(1):14–23. doi: 10.1109/TOH.2013.2296051 24845742

15. Jimenez R, Jimenez AM. Sequential Recognition Rate and Latency of Frequency-Based Tactons. In: 1st International Conference on Human Systems Engineering and Design: Future Trends and Applications. Champagne, France; 2018. p. 16–20.

16. Android Haptics [Internet]. [cited 2019 Feb 5].

17. TI Haptics [Internet]. [cited 2019 Feb 5].

18. Maclean KE, Hayward V. Do It Yourself Haptics: Part II [Tutorial]. IEEE Robot Autom Mag. 2008;15(1):104–19.

19. Stephan K, Smith SE, Martin RL, Parker S, McAnally KI. Learning and Retention of Associations Between Auditory Icons and Denotative Referents: Implications for the Design of Auditory Warnings. Hum Factors. 2006;48(2):288–99. doi: 10.1518/001872006777724426 16884050

20. Enriquez M, MacLean K. The role of choice in longitudinal recall of meaningful tactile signals. In: 16th Symposium on Haptics Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems 2008. Reno, USA; 2008.

21. Adam Swerdfeger B. A first and second longitudinal study of haptic icon learnability : the impact of rhythm and melody. Thesis: University of British Columbia; 2009.

22. Paivio A. Mental Representations: A Dual Coding Approach. Oxford University Press, editor. 1990.

23. Moreno R, Mayer R. Cognitive Principles of Multimedia Learning: The Role of Modality and Contiguity. J Educ Psychol. 1999 Jun 1;91(2):358–68.

24. Glover I. Play As You Learn: Gamification as a Technique for Motivating Learners. In: EdMedia + Innovate Learning 2013. Victoria, Canada; 2013. p. 1999–2008.

25. Renaud C, Wagoner B. The Gamification of Learning. Princ Leadersh. 2011;12(1):56–9.

26. Korn O. Industrial playgrounds: How gamification helps to enrich work for elderly or impaired persons in production. In: 2012 ACM SIGCHI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems. Copenhagen, Denmark; 2012. p. 313–6.

27. Sánchez J, Espinoza M. Audio haptic videogaming for navigation skills in learners who are blind. In: 13th ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility 2011. Dundee, UK; 2011. p. 227–8.

28. YanFi, Udjaja Y, Sari AC. A Gamification Interactive Typing for Primary School Visually Impaired Children in Indonesia. Procedia Comput Sci. 2017;116:638–44.

29. Salvador-Ullauri L, Jaramillo-Alcázar A, Luján-Mora S. A Serious Game Accessible to People with Visual Impairments. In: 9th International Conference on Education Technology and Computers (ICETC 2017). Barcelona, Spain; 2017. p. 84–8.

30. Griffin-Shirley N., Banda D. R., Ajuwon P. M., Cheon J., Lee J., Park H. R., & Lyngdoh SN. A Survey on the Use of Mobile Applications for People Who Are Visually Impaired. J Vis Impair Blind. 2017;111(4):307–23.

31. Weiss M, Luck M, Girgis R, Pal C, Cohen J. A Survey of Mobile Computing for the Visually Impaired. Cornell University arXiv:1811.10120; 2018.

32. Touch, Representation, and Blindness [Internet]. Debates in Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2000. 236 p.

33. Cohen LG, Celnik P, Pascual-Leone A, Corwell B, Faiz L, Dambrosia J, et al. Functional relevance of cross-modal plasticity in blind humans. Nature. 1997 Sep 11;389(6647):180–3. doi: 10.1038/38278 9296495

34. Lai H-H, Chen Y-C. A study on the blind’s sensory ability. Int J Ind Ergon. 2006;36(6):565–70.

35. D’Angiulli A, Waraich P. Enhanced tactile encoding and memory recognition in congenital blindness. Int J Rehabil Res. 2002 Jul 1;25(2):143–5. doi: 10.1097/00004356-200206000-00008 12021601

36. Ballesteros S, Bardisa D, Millar S, Reales J. The Haptic Test Battery: a new instrument to test tactual abilities in blind and visually impaired and sighted children. Br J Vis Impair. 2005 Jan 1;23(1):11–24.

37. Immersion Haptic Studio [Internet]. [cited 2019 Apr 4].

38. Jones LA, Kunkel J, Piateski E. Vibrotactile Pattern Recognition on the Arm and Back. Perception. 2009;38(1):52–68. doi: 10.1068/p5914 19323136

39. Ferguson J, Williamson J, Brewster S. Evaluating Mapping Designs for Conveying Data Through Tactons. In: 10th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. New York, USA; 2018. p. 215–23.

40. Swerdfeger B, Fernquist J. Exploring melodic variance in rhythmic haptic stimulus design. In: 35th Conference Graphics Interface 2009. Kelowna, Canada; 2009. p. 133–40.

41. M. Brown L, Brewster S, Purchase H. Tactile crescendos and sforzandos: applying musical techniques to tactile icon design. In: Extended Abstracts Proceedings of the 2006 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Montréal, Canada; 2006. p. 610–5.

42. MacLean KE. Haptic Interaction Design for Everyday Interfaces. Rev Hum Factors Ergon. 2008;4(1):149–94.

43. Tullis T, Albert W. Measuring the user experience: collecting, analyzing, and presenting usability metrics. Morgan Kaufmann Publisher; 2013.

Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 11