Squishy Yet Satisfying: Exploring Deformable Shapes' Cross-Modal Correspondences with Colors and Emotions


  • Conference: CHI 2024
  • Type: Full paper
  • Goal: Systematically explore deformable shapes' cross-modal correspondences with colors and emotion.


Cameron Steer, Kim Sauvé, Anika Jain, Omosunmisola Ibukunoluwa Lawal, Michael J Proulx, Crescent Jicol, and Jason Alexander
University of Bath





Surfaces with deformable and shape-changing properties seek to enhance and diversify tangible interactions with computing systems. However, we currently lack fundamental knowledge and user interface design principles that connect the inherent properties of deformable shapes with our human senses and cognitive associations. To address this knowledge gap, we systematically explored deformable shapes' cross-modal correspondences (CC) with colors and emotions. In our CC study, 52 participants were presented with deformable shape stimuli that varied in stiffness and angularity. They were asked to associate these stimuli with colors and emotions under (i) visuo-tactile and; (ii) tactile-only conditions. For the first time, our findings reveal (1) how stiffness level primarily influences the CC associations and; (2) that stiffness and angularity play a significant role in CC associations over the visibility of the shapes. The results were distilled into design guidelines for future deformable, shape-changing interfaces that engage specific human senses and responses.