Springer Series on Touch and Haptic Systems: Musical Haptics

Musical Haptics

I’m pleased to announce that my contribution to the Springer Series on Touch and Haptic Systems: Musical Haptics is now available to download for free here.
The book explores the haptic interactions that occur when we experience or perform music; specifically, the effects of combining both auditory and haptic information during performances with musical instruments. This topic is fascinating to me, as during these types of interaction, both the auditory and haptic senses receive vibrations and this type of multimodal stimulation is experienced and analysed not only by the musician, but also the audience too.
The book represents a penultimate moment in my own research because the fields of human-computer interaction, haptics, and music were all brought together for my PhD thesis. My previous research highlighted that sound, as music, was more than the auditory perception of vibration. I first noticed this phenomenon when I was working as a live sound engineer. During a gig, I often noticed that the audience were not only stimulated by the acoustic sounds produced by the PA, but also by the vibrations they experienced via other modalities; such as through the air and dance floor. Furthermore, during my studies in music technology, I observed that for performing musicians, there also existed a complex relationship between auditory–haptic interactions with acoustic and digital musical instruments (DMIs). To establish what exactly this relationship entailed, I explored multiple methodologies for evaluating DMIs, to discover what happens between musicians and their instruments while playing.
My chapter “A Functional Analysis of Haptic Feedback in Digital Musical Instrument Interactions” presents an experiment that evaluated the functionality, usability, and the musician’s experiences when using a DMI: a DMI that was capable of stimulating the haptic senses in different ways. The experiment revealed that the various types of feedback had no significant functional effect upon device performance in pitch selection tasks, but a number of significant effects were found upon the users’ perception of usability and their experiences with each of the different feedback types.
The book is jam packed with some of the most prolific authors in musical haptic research and I’m not afraid to say, I was a bit intimidated. But, I am now both honoured and proud to be included among them! The collected chapters were expertly edited and arranged by Stefano Papetti (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste) and Charalampos Saitis (Technische Universität Berlin). I look forwards now to exploring these works and incorporating them into my future research adventures. Bravo to all involved 😀


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Latest Blogs for Building City Dashboards Project.

It was a busy month in November. I’ve talked about some of my most recent work for the Building City Dashboards project at Maynooth University on the following pages…





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Paul O’Donnell’s Jazz World Ensemble.

I am pleased to announce that Paul O’Donnell‘s Jazz World Ensemble will be releasing a new album called “Thin Lines” at the Cork Jazz Festival 2017. A short demo of what’s on the album is available on SoundCloud here and you can catch the ensemble live in Cork (Ireland) on the following dates…

The Granary Theatre Cork – Friday October 27th @ 1.10 pm.
The Metropole Hotel (MacCurtain Street) – Friday October 27th @ 9.45 pm.
The Metropole Hotel (MacCurtain Street) – Saturday October 28th @ 3.00 pm.

You can also check out the first album we worked on together here.

Who’s on the new Thin Lines album?

Paul O’Donnell (Ireland) – Keyboard.
Niwel Tsumbu (DR Congo) – Guitar and Percussion.
Eamonn Cagney (Ireland) – Percussion.
Peter Erdei (Hungary) – Bass.
Tomas Gall (Slovakia) – Drum Kit.
Nick Roth (Ireland) – Soprano and Alto Sax.
Claudia Schwab (Austria) – Fiddle.
Matthias Schriefl (Germany) – Trumpet.
Dora Gola (Poland) – Vocals.

All compositions by Paul O’Donnell.
Recorded at the Western Gateway Building, UCC, on November 30th, 2016.
Engineered and mastered By Dr. Gareth W. Young.
Mixed, edited, and produced by Dr. Gareth W. Young and Paul O’Donnell.

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Urban Data and Media Art Seminar: August 28th, 2017.

A seminar to explore existing and potential modes and methodologies of creative data visualisation both of and in the city.

The Building City Dashboards Project is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its first research seminar: Urban Data and Media Art. The seminar will take place on the 28th of August, 2017, in Room 2.31, Iontas Building, North Campus, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Kildare. You are invited to register for attend the event (for free) on the project Eventbrite page below. The seminar will begin at 11 am with talks from Dr. Maria MenciaDr. Marcos Dias, and Camille Dongan.




Dr. Maria Mencia (@mariaFmencia) is a media artist/e-poet, practice-based researcher and teaches in the School of Performance and Screen Studies at Kingston University (London, UK) where she is also an executive committee member of The Creative Process Research Unit . Mencía is a pioneer in digital poetry and her PhD in Digital Poetics and Digital Art at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts-London (2000-2003), was one of the first doctorates in the field of electronic literature. She studied English Philology at the Complutense University in Madrid, Fine Art & Design and History and Theory of Art at the University of the Arts London. Her practice-based research is at the intersection of language, art and digital technology. It explores multimodal digital textualities, digital media grammars, virtual poetic spaces and the reader’s/viewer’s engagement. It is trans-disciplinary, bringing together different cultural, artistic and literary traditions such as: linguistics, translation, fine art, visual, concrete and sound poetry, with digital poetics, electronic writing, creative programming, interaction and interface design, new media art theories and practices. Her practice includes interactive digital media installations, performances, web-based works, sound-generated poems, interactive generative narratives and data visualisation poetics. She is an Executive Member of the Electronic Literature Organization Board of Directors (ELO).


Dr. Marcos Dias (@mpdias) is a lecturer in Media Studies and co-coordinator of the Masters (MA) in Critical and Creative Media in Maynooth University. He graduated from the School of Culture and Communication in the University of Melbourne in 2015 with a PhD in Media Studies. Marcos’s PhD thesis is a multidisciplinary investigation of the social and spatial impact of digital technologies in the contemporary mediated city through ethnographic research on Blast Theory’s participatory art project A Machine To See With. His main research focus is the analysis of contemporary social and spatial exchanges mediated by digital technologies in urban space. His educational background includes a BA in Architecture and City Planning (University of Sao Paulo), a BA in Digital Media Design and Production (Letterkenny Institute of Technology) and a MSc in Interactive Digital Media (Trinity College). Marcos has previously worked as an architect and web designer and he was an Editorial Board Member of the Platform Journal of Media and Communications (2010-2011).


Camille Dongan (@VRCamillecom) is a Virtual Reality consultant and content producer with 15 year parallel careers in both technology and the arts (theatre, film, radio). Since discovering Virtual Reality 2 ½ years ago, and realising the potential for this immersive medium, she has been researching and developing concepts for how Virtual Reality can impact our experiences at work and at play. Camille runs VR and AR (Augmented Reality) talks and workshops for clients across a variety of sectors including entertainment, fintech, design and academia. Camille runs a VR meetup called VR Community Ireland where a group of artists, technologists, psychologists, academics and VR enthusiasts meet up to explore the new storytelling possibilities presented by VR and AR. Camille works as a creative tech producer with vStream where she produces AR and VR applications for brands.



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Blog Posts for the Building City Dashboards Project at NUIM, Maynooth.

I’ve recently published two blog posts (here) for the Building City Dashboards Project at the National Centre for Geocomputation (NCG), Maynooth University.

On the road to addressing the interaction problems that city dashboard projects are currently facing, I have attended a couple of conferences and written about how these interdisciplinary subjects can be called upon to assist the project. The aim of my role is to create effective multimodal platform analytics; to explore optimal data representations for different devices and platforms; to develop augmented reality and other alternative data presentations; and to improve user experience and social interaction with data.
Follow @dashbuild for more updates about the BCD Project:

“The Building city dashboards (BCD) project seeks to determine how to build more extensive and effective city dashboards. It aims to develop new tools that extend beyond data visualisation tools to provide robust data analysis and decision support frameworks that can be used by experts and citizens alike.”

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NIME 2017

I’m pleased to announce that my research paper “A Qualitative Analysis of Haptic Feedback in Music Focused Exercises,” will appear in the 2017 NIME conference proceedings. New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) is a highly respected, international conference dedicated to academic research applied in the development and investigation of creative applications of technologies and their role in artistic conceptualisations, expression, and performance. During the conference, researchers and musicians will gather to share their knowledge and recent work on new interface designs and evaluation techniques. I will be presenting at the conference on Wednesday, May 17th in the Papers 6: Musical HCI strand at 11:00 – 12:30.

See you there!

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Haptics in Music: The Effects of Vibrotactile Stimulus in Low Frequency Auditory Difference Detection Tasks.

You can now read my latest research paper in the IEEE Transactions on Haptics Journal!

The IEEE Transactions on Haptics (ToH) is a scholarly archival journal that addresses the science, technology and applications associated with information acquisition and object manipulation through touch.

You can get the Early Access article from the IEEE ToH website (Here) or (Here). Early Access articles are made available in advance of the final electronic or print versions. Early Access articles are peer reviewed but may not be fully edited. They are fully citable from the moment they appear in IEEE Xplore.

Haptics in Music: The Effects of Vibrotactile Stimulus in Low Frequency Auditory Difference Detection Tasks.


We present an experiment that investigated the effect of vibrotactile stimulation in auditory pitch discrimination tasks. Extra-auditory information was expected to have some influence upon the frequency discrimination of auditory Just Noticeable Difference (JND) detection levels at 160 Hz. To measure this, the potential to correctly identified positive and negative frequency changes for two randomly divided groups was measured and then compared. The first group was given an audio only JND test and the second group was given the same test, but with additional vibrotactile stimulus delivered via a vibrating glove device. The results of the experiment suggest that in musical interactions involving the selection of specific pitches, or the detection of pitch variation, vibrotactile feedback may have some advantageous effect upon a musician’s ability to perceive changes when presented in synchrony with auditory stimulus.
Published in: IEEE Transactions on Haptics ( Volume: PP, Issue: 99 )
Page(s): 1 – 1
Date of Publication: 29 December 2016
Print ISSN: 1939-1412

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PhD Thesis Available.

My PhD thesis is now available to read on the UCC CORA website:


Human-Computer Interaction Methodologies Applied in the Evaluation of Haptic Digital Musical Instruments.

Developments in Music Technology have seen major changes in the manner in which artists, performers, and creatives interact with digital technology; this is arguably due to the increasing variety of digital technologies that are readily available today. Digital Musical Instruments (DMIs) present musicians with performance challenges that are unique to Computer Music. One of the most significant deviations from conventional acoustic musical instruments is the level of physical feedback conveyed by the instrument back to the user. Currently, new interfaces for musical expression are not designed to be as physically communicative as acoustic instruments. DMIs are often void of physical feedback and therefore lack the ability to impart important performance information to the user. Moreover, there is currently no standardised way to measure the effects of this deficit. In a design context, best practice would expect that there should be a set of methods to effectively, repeatedly, and quantifiably evaluate the various elements of functionality, usability, and user experience involved in a DMI interaction. Earlier applications of haptics have tried to address device performance issues associated with the lack of feedback in digital device designs and it is argued that the level of haptic feedback presented to a user can significantly affect the user’s overall emotive feeling towards a musical device. In my research I explored a number of techniques in which physicality could be reintroduced to digital interactions with musical devices. I conducted psychophysiological studies that measured the effects of vibration, designed an evaluation framework that could be applied to musical instruments, and presented functional and longitudinal studies that applied the framework in the evaluation of haptics applied in Computer Music.

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Irish HCI 2016

Very pleased to have been able to contribute to the days proceedings at iHIC 2016 in Cork.

I was first up to present my research “Usability Testing of Video Game Controllers: A case study” and after that I discussed The Design of Tangible Digital Musical Instruments in the poster session that followed.




A very interesting day with friends new and old.

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The Design of Tangible Digital Musical Instruments: Mustwork2016

I’m very pleased to have been a part of the Mustwork2016 workshop that was held on Friday June 10th 2016 in the Michael Smurfit Business School, UCD, Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin. The workshop was intended to allow for the presentation of scientific research and to highlight industrial, employment, and research opportunities in the area of music computing, technology, and analytics in Ireland.

My collaborative paper “The Design of Tangible Digital Musical Instruments” was presented to the delegates to offer guidelines that highlight the impact of haptic feedback upon the experiences of computer musicians using Digital Musical Instruments (DMIs). It was proposed that by following the guidelines presented in the paper, haptically enabled DMI designs can be fully communicative to all senses and present computer musicians with an array of carefully designed tools for their own artistic endeavours.

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