Feel The Vibe: Aesthetics of Whole-body Vibrations
Willem van der Maden1, Daniel Shor1, J. Derek Lomas1
We propose that the classical aesthetic theories of
consonance and dissonance apply to vibrotactile
feedback and the somatosensory system.
In our pilot study, (n=24) subjects
ranked six (6) different low frequency
(<40hz) vibration combinations while
lying in a custom-built vibrating chair.
The frequency combinations included consonant
intervals – the octave and the ﬁfth – and dissonant
ratios – minor second and the minor seventh.
Our data suggest that the classical phenomena
of consonance and dissonance do appear to
operate in the medium of tactile vibrations.
This suggests that vibration frequency
combinations could affect emotional responses
through a sensation of tension through dissonance
and release through consonance. This work has
implications for producing more emotive and
expressive vibrotactile experiences.
• Hypothesis Consonant tactile chords
(combinations of vibration frequencies)
will be considered “more liked/pleasant”
than dissonant tactile chords.
• Conclusion: Consonant tactile vibration
combinations/chords (the octave and
the ﬁh) are preferred to dissonant
tactile vibrations combinations/chords
(minor second and the minor seventh).
Consonance and dissonance play a major role
in governing the emotional reception musical
sounds. Touch is also a rich medium for emotional
and aesthetic experiences. To our knowledge, this
is the ﬁrst study to investigate consonance and
dissonance phenomena in felt vibrations.
Aesthetic testing was performed using a custom-
designed full-body vibrotactile experience – the
”Feel the Vibe (FtV) Chair.” Made from interwoven
nylon straps suspended within a tubular frame.
Vibration feedback was provided by an Aurasound
AST-2B-4 Pro Bass Shaker Tactile Transducer. The
FtV chair was part of the Dutch Design Week.
Participants used an interface presented in the
TouchOSC app that allowed them to play six different
tactile frequency combinations by selecting
different unlabeled radio buttons. Participants
were asked to try and feel the different frequency
combinations. They were asked to determine a
rank order for each button, where “1” is most
liked, and “6” is least liked. Participants could
switch between the buttons as many times as
they liked to determine their most favorite and
least favorite tactile experiences. However, only
one tactile experience was active at a given time.
• Why are certain frequencies of vibration preferred
• What are the role of individual differences in the
perception of tactile chords?
Table 1. Overall results of individual ranking of different
tones, 3 dissonant and 3 consonant. Lowered ranks are
more preferred (1 is best, 6 is worst).
Figure 1. Distribution of participant rankings across each
frequency combinations. The most preferred frequency
combination was the equivalent of a musical ﬁfth (the
most consonant interval) while the most disliked was
the equivalent of the minor second (the most dissonant
1: Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE) Technical University of Delft, Delft, Netherlands