Analysis of a decade of affective haptic system design research

Nov 2021 - May 2023

Affective haptic system design (AHSD), or the overlap of affect and haptics within the field of HCI, is an emerging topic with multiple applications such as wearable devices that help us to regulate emption. In order to uncover the latest trends, the SPIN lab conducted research on a database of 110 published papers from the past decade.


As a volunteer at the Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group (SPIN) at University of British Columbia, I had the opportunity to join a team of a PhD candidate and a Masters candidate under the guidance of Dr. Karon MacLean. After selecting 110 papers, we read, analyzed, and coded information about each of them based on 38 dimensions grouped into 8 facets.

My role

This project was brought together by incredibly talented and hard-working students, which I had the pleasure of working with.

I joined the project at the analysis stage, after the 110 papers were selected. We used 10 of the papers to calibrate our coding decisions, then the master student and I split up the rest of the 100 papers, analyzing 50 each. The PhD student analyzed all 110 on her own, so that we have at least two coders for all of the papers. Together, we hand coded over 3,000 cells worth of data, in addition to machine-coded cells.

My main contributions in this project were coding the papers, clarifying the definitions of dimensions, suggesting additional dimensions of analysis, data analysis, and revisions in the final paper.

Paper information


The global pandemic exposed serious drawbacks in relying on communication modalities in which social touch, however important, is absent. Considerable research has explored haptic technologies for sensing or displaying social touch and influencing affective state, for wellness, social communication, emotion regulation, and affect therapy. However, this Affective Haptic System design (AHSD) work varies widely in purpose and origin discipline, making it difficult to perceive overall progress and identify primary obstacles to practical deployment. We conducted a scoping review and conceptual analysis with a design lens, identifying 110 papers from the last decade in 11 ACM and IEEE venues that regularly attract AHSD work. Our analysis identified 38 dimensions within 8 facets: demographic, theoretical grounding, impact, system specification, usage specification, ethical consideration, technology, and evaluation. We visualize trends, disciplinary mixing, and topical focus over time, and highlight major advances while pinning down crucial gaps that can be addressed in the future.


Preeti Vyas, Unma Mayur Desai, Karin Yamakawa, and Karon Maclean. 2023. A Descriptive Analysis of a Formative Decade of Research in Affective Haptic System Design. In Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '23). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 229, 1–23.