Back-of-Device Force Feedback Improves Touchscreen Interaction for Mobile Devices

Back-of-Device Force Feedback Improves Touchscreen Interaction for Mobile Devices Article

Jens Maiero, David Eibich, Ernst Kruijff, André Hinkenjann, Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, Hrvoje Benko, George Ghinea


Touchscreen interaction suffers from occlusion problems as fingers can cover small targets, which makes interacting with such targets challenging. To improve touchscreen interaction accuracy and consequently the selection of small or hidden objects, we introduce a back-of-device force feedback system for smartphones. We introduce a new solution that combines force feedback on the back to enhance touch input on the front screen. The interface includes three actuated pins at the back of a smartphone. All three pins are driven by microservos and can be actuated up to a frequency of 50 Hz and a maximum amplitude of 5 mm. In a first psychophysical user study, we explored the limits of the system. Thereafter, we demonstrate through a performance study that the proposed interface can enhance touchscreen interaction precision, compared to state-of-the-art methods. In particular, the selection of small targets performed remarkably well with force feedback. The study additionally shows that users subjectively felt significantly more accurate with force feedback. Based on the results, we discuss back-to-front feedback design issues and demonstrate potential applications through several prototypical concepts to illustrate where the back-of-device force feedback could be beneficial.

Date of publication: Oct - 2019
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