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Philosophy for Multisensory Communication and Media

Keith Kenney

Multisensory media – hybrid media that engage more than the auditory and visual senses – is beginning to change the way that we communicate. While hardware and software for capturing and emitting different types of sensory data are still being developed, this book lays a theoretical foundation for their use. Drawing upon the ideas of philosophers who write about sensory perception as well as each of the senses, Keith Kenney explains the issues that communication and media scholars will need to investigate as we begin to exchange haptic, olfactory, and even gustatory messages.

Scholars interested in communication theory, media theory, and multimodality will discover new ideas by current philosophers, while scholars of sensory studies will learn how their field can be extended to communication and media. Designers of multisensory experiences, such as videogame developers, will find practical suggestions for creating richer and more meaningful experiences. A dozen sidebars apply philosophical ideas to common experiences so that the text can be used in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

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Chapter 4. Haptic Media


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In the previous chapter I explained why sensory perception is so fundamentally important. We normally think of using language to relate to one another, but underpinning language is sensory perception.

In this chapter I discuss the haptic sense and how media technologies are utilizing the haptic sense. You already use haptic technology if you use game controllers, joysticks, and steering wheels for video or arcade games. You also use haptic technology when you use touch screens on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Or when your phone vibrates.

If you own an Apple Watch, however, you are using some of the most current haptic technology. The watch has a Taptic Engine that enables you to use tactile sensations in several ways. For example, if you want to walk along a particular route, the Apple Watch will know where you are, and it vibrates when it’s time to turn—one kind of buzz for left, a different one for right. You can also send different types of taps to people. To do so, you select a person in your contact list and tap on the watch face. And if another Watch wearer sends you a message, you will feel a tap/nudge on your wrist, and when you lift your arm, the message is displayed on the watch face. Another feature of the Apple Watch is that you can share your heartbeat in real time with another person because the watch has...

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