The Emotion Regulation Lab has been provided with early access to the Frebble: a device under development by Holland Haptics that can physically connect you to another person over the internet.
When one user squeezes a Frebble, the corresponding Frebble in their partners hand will gently apply pressure to the back of their hand, simulating what they would feel if you were holding hands right next to each other. Frebble uses haptic technology, or ‘tactile feedback’ to mimic the sensation of hand-holding through two devices. They do this thanks to two pressure sensors at the front of each device to register squeezing, two vibration motors on the side to make the sensation feel more real, and one integrated ‘squeeze bar’ to replicate holding hands. A multicolor LED will indicate connection status and when a squeeze is waiting.
Even though we will be working with a first prototype, the use of this technology will offer us a great opportunity to compare the effects of real life social touch and social touch over a distance through a simulated squeeze in your hand.
A few bullet points with some technological background on the Frebble:
- Under development by Holland Haptics
- The Frebble currently connects via an Android app and then to a Frebble of a friend on Google+ through Android Google Plus platform services.
- Easy to control directly within our experiments over Bluetooth BLE since the Frebble uses the Nordic nRF UART protocol
- Squeeze -> integer 0-255 -> UART -> integer 0-255 -> actuator
- See below for basic Android UART service
- Squeeze bar actuated over a solenoid
- Two pressure sensors at the front to register squeezing
- Two vibration motors on the side to enhance the haptic experience
- Multicolor LED to indicate connection and communication status
- Bluetooth Low Energy communication
- Rechargeable Lithium Polymer battery
- Molded out of impact-resistant plastic with rubberized padded areas for added gripability
- About 12 cm high
- Lasts for 4 hours of continuous use