What's That Shape?
Investigating Eyes-Free Recognition of Textile Icons

Paper at ACM CHI '23
by René Schäfer, Oliver Nowak, Lovis Suchmann, Sören Schröder, and Jan Borchers


Textile surfaces, such as on sofas, cushions, and clothes, offer promising alternative locations to place controls for digital devices. Textiles are a natural, even abundant part of living spaces, and support unobtrusive input. While there is solid work on technical implementations of textile interfaces, there is little guidance regarding their design—especially their haptic cues, which are essential for eyes-free use. In particular, icons easily communicate information visually in a compact fashion, but it is unclear how to adapt them to the haptics-centric textile interface experience. Therefore, we investigated the recognizability of 84 haptic icons on fabrics. Each combines a shape, height profile (raised, recessed, or flat), and affected area (filled or outline). Our participants clearly preferred raised icons, and identified them with the highest accuracy and at competitive speeds. We also provide insights into icons that look very different, but are hard to distinguish via touch alone.










  • René Schäfer, Oliver Nowak, Lovis Bero Suchmann, Sören Schröder and Jan Borchers. What’s That Shape? Investigating Eyes-Free Recognition of Textile Icons.  In Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI '23, pages 12, Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, April 2023.
    HomepagePDF DocumentBibTeX Entry

← Main RIME project page

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.