The Haptification Manifesto is a provocative exploration of tangible interactions for Mixed Reality. A fictional research group M.A.N.G.O. Labs (the Multisensory Applications Non-Governmental Organisation) explores touch in Virtual Reality through “haptification” method — converting digital interactions into a tactile experience. Combining the extreme mission statement of the manifesto and M.A.N.G.O. Labs framework let us make investigation through a critical, yet light-hearted, lens.
The paradigm of Haptification was born out of the suffocating limitations placed on the sense of touch by modern technology. Our fingers are bored and tired, looking for new sensations across these glass surfaces. We want to feel. We want to experience. We want to touch. Interaction is never 'screen by default.' Think about how life was with touch. Question those who have removed touch from your senses. Think about how life can be with touch. We proclaim kinesthetic communication as the new medium of the human-device experience. We are devoted to creating natural interactions to enrich human experience with every reality.
Mixed reality interface
We were curious about VR as a blindfold contrary to VR as a rich magic space. Once the headset goes on, you become immersed in a new world but become disconnected from the physical world — conventional reality — where you are still present. This pushed us to explore new ways touch could augment VR and bridge that division between the two realities.
We crafted three prototypes of “haptified” interfaces for apps — “happs”— in VR. Our aim was to push boundaries and redefine analog and digital interactions for Mixed Reality. We created a set up for interactions in a physical room and we designed visual parts of the interface in 3D. The room was then modelled in Unity and objects were placed in a way that made navigating the room both physically and virtually feel natural.
 Tinder happ
By moving a physical slider with a piece of fresh mango on top, you can swipe 3D models of persons to a trash can or heart in VR showing your preferences. Our aim was to create a unique mixed interface both in conventional and virtual reality to bring physicality and test weird materials like exaggerated fleshy mango texture as a controller.
 Instagram happ
The team “haptify” interaction of endless scrolling through Instagram feed by using a mechanical crank attached to the table in conventional reality that acts as the controller for scrolling huge wall of images in VR. Oh, and we made it difficult to scroll now, no longer mindlessly scrolling through the content.
 Weather happ
In Weather happ, we “haptify” digital interaction of choosing a city and weather broadcast content. Simply spin the physical rotation disk to choose the fictional location in VR and feel rainy day in Misty Marshes or summer heat in Dry Dunes by your hand. We simulated the sensation of weather by using physical set up and different props.
Acclimatisation to weird senses of touch goes fast. You touch the slimy mango controller and immediately draw your hand back. However, in a few seconds you accept this as the new interface and focus on performing things in VR. This raises the question what is normal and acceptable as interactions for now and for the future.
We found out a lack of vocabulary for senses. We have a rich verbal lexicon to describe what we see but with touch it is more complicated. When paired with VR, it becomes even trickier.
The physical and digital are both real and meaningful for people. Blending senses and fusing the digital and physical spaces create powerful immersion with the technology.
You can find more about The Haptification Manifesto philosophy and details of the process on the Medium article.
Contribution: concept development, interaction design, prototyping and modeling in Unity.