active touch

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This thesis project aims to tackle the world of interaction with electronic devices according to a critic and in some ways anachronistic vision, exploiting something that in the design field it isn’t properly considered: the haptic perception.

We have always got used to interface with analog knobs and for a few years, thanks to touchscreens, with surfaces provided of digital knobs as well. It is in this contemporary duality that borns the opportunity to exploit an interactive surface characterized by a strong material-aesthetic and analog component. Thanks to tactile textures’ design, potentially the surface of any object, made of any material, it could be imagined as an interface.

This would lead to new forms of relationship with the electronic devices that surround us, avoiding a division between the object and the knobs adapted to make it work, as well as the use of dull surfaces equipped with touch screens. Until, perhaps, changing the idea of technology itself, from a cognitive point of view, as a quality natively embedded in the environment that surrounds us rather than as an artifice added later.

The complete dissertation is available here.

For the project book take a look here.

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The research started with the analysis of the evolution of human-machine interactions up to the last concepts, the common touch-screen based gestures, the Gestalt principles of sight perception and past researches  and tests on tactile perception (most of them carried out with blind subjects). It’s followed the design of patterns in relief (texture), prototyped through 3D printing and submitted to a user test.

The technology, not yet developed, grounded theoretically on MIT Tangible Media Group’s project Cilllia.
The applications of this experimental thesis could be very wide, from new typology of smart furniture to uncommon wearable objects, overtaking the division between objects and their interfaces and working especially when the sight-based interactions are uncomfortable, unnecessary or impossible.

mentor Prof. Stefano Maffei



Development of haptic interaction through textural perception. A basic grammar for design.


  • Client:Master Thesis
  • Categories:
  • Skills:
    • 3D printing
    • Illustrator
    • prototyping
    • Rhinoceros
    • user testing
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