ThermoSurf: Thermal display technology for dynamic and multi-finger interactions

Luka Peters, Gokhan Serhat, Yasemin Vardar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Thermal feedback has been proven to enhance user experience in human-machine interactions. Yet state-of-the-art thermal technology has focused on the single finger or palm in static contact, overlooking dynamic and multi-finger interactions. The underlying challenges include incompatible designs of conventional interfaces for providing salient thermal stimuli for such interactions and, thereby, a lack of knowledge on human thermal perception for relevant conditions. Here we present the ThermoSurf, a new thermal display technology that can deliver temperature patterns on a large interface suitable for dynamic and multi-finger interactions. We also investigate how user exploration affects the perception of the generated temperature distributions. Twenty-three human participants interacted with the device following three exploration conditions: static-single finger, dynamic-single finger, and static-multi finger. In these experiments, the individuals evaluated 15 temperature differences ranging from -7.5°C to +1.5°C with an initial temperature of 38°C. Our results showed that human sensitivity against thermal stimuli is significantly greater for static-single finger contact compared to the other tested conditions. In addition, this interaction type resulted in higher thermal discrimination thresholds than the ones reported in the literature. Our findings offer new perspectives on providing salient and consistent thermal feedback for future tactile interfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12004-12014
JournalIEEE Access
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Fingers
  • Heating systems
  • human thermal perception
  • human-machine interaction
  • Sensitivity
  • Skin
  • Temperature distribution
  • Temperature sensors
  • Thermal conductivity
  • thermal display
  • thermal feedback


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