Exclusive Interview with CuteCircuit

Speaking during Session V: Emerging Application Developments at Smart Haptics 2018, CuteCircuit will present The Touch is the Message: Skin as an Interface to our Senses

In a joint interview, Francesca Rosella, Chief Creative Director and Co-Founder and Ryan Genz, CEO of CuteCircuit, recently spoke with Smithers about the future of haptics, where they see the biggest challenges in haptics for clothing and more. 

Smithers: We have seen some successful commercial applications of CuteCircuit, both with the HugShirt and the SoundShirt.Where do you see yourselves going next? Do you plan to stay in the haptics for clothing space?  

CuteCircuit: The HugShirt was designed in 2002, it was the world’s first wearable haptic telecommunication device, since then the technology has evolved and we see our haptic garments becoming key components of augmented and virtual reality systems. Multisensory stimulation is the future of mixed reality experiences. Haptic feedback, in clothing especially, is a very important component that can be used to convey greater immersion.  

Feeling a total body immersion and life-like presence of one’s body into a video-game or virtual meeting can enhance those experiences and help to convey a more accurate meaning for those interactions. Touch is a very important sense for humans as our skin is the largest sensory organ on our body. A handshake or a hug improve a person’s mood and wellbeing, studies report that having almost 50 touches a day improves one’s quality of life. And when a real human is not there to give us that hug then a haptic garment is the next best thing.

Haptics for clothing is one key ingredient in the wearable technology landscape, and since CuteCircuit was the first mover in this area we are continuing to develop and improve the state of the art in the area. So it is definitely something that we will be pursuing in the future. However often we see solutions in the market that are haptic-only solutions that sometimes fail to achieve the desired benefits, so it is important to use haptic interfaces as a component of an overall system and for this reason CuteCircuit often uses Haptics on conjunction with our other design components to create complete solutions from an interaction Design perspective.

Smithers: What is the biggest challenge with haptics in clothing?  

CuteCircuit:  Haptics often use micro-motors, shape change materials, etc. the integration of these elements into a normal clothing manufacturing cycle needs to be well planned.

But it’s not impossible and through thoughtful design this integration can even be streamlined for economic production.

At CuteCircuit we have created patented processes for micro-technology integration into clothing manufacturing. There is a very important component when manufacturing wearable technology: creating garments that can be used as normal garments would be, such as going through the wash and accompanying the body’s movement.

Smithers: What do you think the future holds for the haptics industry?

CuteCircuit:  We will see more haptics in different industries, the key to success is to provide a pleasant and intuitive experience without cumbersome equipment.
Much more diversification of haptics in interfaces.

Smithers: What are you most looking forward to hearing about at Smart Haptics 2018?

CuteCircuit:  We will discuss a range of possibilities describing what haptics can do for entertainment, sports, and social life. We look forward to hear more about new materials, and learning more about the needs of different user groups.