In face-to-face communication, people can often achieve empathy by understanding the explicit and implicit emotions shared through body-language, word usage, and tone. But in digital communication it becomes difficult to share or identify these (non)verbal cues, especially after ambiguous conversation starters such as “hey, can we talk?” are sent. In this paper, we explore how a tangible artefact could enhance empathy in text-based communication by physically sharing implicit emotional feedback. We conducted two workshops to understand the emotions involved in ambiguous conversation starters and how they can be expressed through an artefact. These workshops resulted in a prototype of a phone case that sends the sender of a text message the initial implicit emotional reaction of the receiver using haptic patterns to inform the receiver how best to proceed. This paper concludes by discussing the nuances of designing for emotions in text-based communication as well as suggestions for future work.
This project was published as a Work in Progress paper in TEI '23: Proceedings of the Seventeenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction.
You can view the paper here: https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3569009.3573124