The VibroPixels and shared tactile experiences

Researchers at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University and the Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab (IDMIL) at McGill University, both in Montreal, have developed a new tactile display system which enables the creation of whole-body touch sensations in large social contexts. The VibroPixels were developed within a three year long research and creation project which brought together new media artists, anthropologists, music technologists and a team of independent artists/designers. The project’s goal was to explore how touch, one of our most intimate senses, can be shared between groups of 20-100 people and to facilitate the creation of new kinds of immersive sensorial experiences. This summer, the VibroPixels are being used in the immersive art installation Haptic Field, currently being presented at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, Germany until July 31.

The VibroPixels were designed and developed by McGill Ph.D. researchers Ian Hattwick and Ivan Frnaco in association with Prof. Marcelo Wanderley and Prof. Chris Salter. Individually, the VibroPixels are small, wirelessly controlled devices which contain powerful tactile actuators, embedded lighting, and motion sensing, and which can generate a wide variety of complex tactile sensations. When worn on the body in groups of 2-9 devices, the system builds upon current scientific knowledge of tactile perception to allow for the creation of immersive, whole-body tactile sensations.

Designed for use in large-scale social contexts, the VibroPixels are scalable and reconfigurable, allowing for the easy creation of massive tactile displays distributed among hundreds of participants. The combination of embedded lighting and tactile actuators allow for the sensations of touch and light to move amongst crowds of people, and enable the perception of the tactile experience of other participants. In this way, the VibroPixels can be used in many applications including new location-based and live entertainment events, social gaming, and similar events.

For more information, please contact:
Ian Hattwick,
Chris Salter,

Ian Hattwick, Ph.D. Researcher, Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab, McGill University
Chris Salter, artist, Concordia University Research Chair in New Media and the Senses, and Associate Director of the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology
Marcelo M. Wanderley, director of the Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab, McGill University