living phone

Deva in use

Deva – a prototype exploring ear and breathing gestures to communicate emotion

For this project, my co-authors and I envisioned how recent technical advancements in flexible display materials (e.g. flexible OLEDs) could lead to enhance communication by smartphones. Specifically, we explored how bendable and eventually, actuated, display could improve smartphone communication by displays emotions through life-like gestures.

Using a haptic sketching methodology, we created a range of human and motor actuated prototypes to explore the range of gestures and emotional expression that could be expressed in a phone like device. This development eventually led to DEVA, a med-fidelity prototype capable of breathing­‐like and ear-like actions, which we used to express particular emotions. The use case for this prototype was using gestures to display the emotion of an incoming text message. I developed and co-developed a number of the early prototypes for this project, and took the lead on the technical development of our final prototype.

We performed a user study to examine whether users were receptive to the idea of a smartphone capable of gestural display, and to see if users could consistently interpret DEVA’s prep-programmed emotions. Results of our study showed that users were receptive to a gesturing phone, and that DEVA was capable of consistently expressing emotions through its perceived level of excitement, and to a smaller degree, valence (i.e. happiness vs. sadness). I contributed to the design and running of the study, as well as the statistical analysis, and was the lead author on a paper we submitted to the Graphics Interface (2013) conference detailing the project and guidelines for the development of gestural smartphones.

methods and tools
haptic sketching
hobby electronics (small servos, motors)
usability experiment design and testing
statistical analysis

lo fidelity prototypes (puppets)
medium fidelity, actuated prototypes

Dawson, J.Q.,
Schneider, O.S, Ferstay, J., Toker, D., Link, J., Haddad, S, MacLean, K. (2013). It’s Alive! Exploring the Design Space of a Gesturing Phone. Proc. Graphics Interface (GI) 2013.

I presented this work at Graphics Interface in June 2013. [talk slides]


demo of prototypes