The Haptic Bracelets: learning multi-limb rhythm skills from haptic stimuli while reading

Bouwer, Anders; Holland, Simon and Dalgleish, Mat (2013). The Haptic Bracelets: learning multi-limb rhythm skills from haptic stimuli while reading. In: Holland, Simon; Wilkie, Katie; Mulholland, Paul and Seago, Allan eds. Music and Human-Computer Interaction. Cultural Computing. London: Springer, pp. 101–122.




The Haptic Bracelets are a system designed to help people learn multi-limbed rhythms (which involve multiple simultaneous rhythmic patterns) while they carry out other tasks. The Haptic Bracelets consist of vibrotactiles attached to each wrist and ankle, together with a computer system to control them. In this chapter, we report on an early empirical test of the capabilities of this system, and consider de-sign implications. In the pre-test phase, participants were asked to play a series of multi-limb rhythms on a drum kit, guided by audio recordings. Participants’ per-formances in this phase provided a base reference for later comparisons. During the following passive learning phase, away from the drum kit, just two rhythms from the set were silently 'played' to each subject via vibrotactiles attached to wrists and ankles, while participants carried out a 30-minute reading comprehen-sion test. Different pairs of rhythms were chosen for different subjects to control for effects of rhythm complexity. In each case, the two rhythms were looped and alternated every few minutes. In the final phase, subjects were asked to play again at the drum kit the complete set of rhythms from the pre-test, including, of course, the two rhythms to which they had been passively exposed. Pending analysis of quantitative data focusing on accuracy, timing, number of attempts and number of errors, in this chapter we present preliminary findings based on participants’ sub-jective evaluations. Most participants thought that the technology helped them to understand rhythms and to play rhythms better, and preferred haptic to audio to find out which limb to play when. Most participants indicated that they would pre-fer using a combination of haptics and audio for learning rhythms to either mo-dality on its own. Replies to open questions were analysed to identify design is-sues, and implications for design improvements were considered.

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