Touch Technology in Affective Human-, Robot-, and Virtual-Human Interactions: A Survey

Temitayo Olugbade, Liang He, Perla Maiolino, Dirk Heylen, Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Given the importance of affective touch in human interactions, technology designers are increasingly attempting to bring this modality to the core of interactive technology. Advances in haptics and touch-sensing technology have been critical to fostering interest in this area. In this survey, we review how affective touch is investigated to enhance and support the human experience with or through technology. We explore this question across three different research areas to highlight their epistemology, main findings, and the challenges that persist. First, we review affective touch technology through the human-computer interaction literature to understand how it has been applied to the mediation of human-human interaction and its roles in other human interactions particularly with oneself, augmented objects/media, and affect-aware devices. We further highlight the datasets and methods that have been investigated for automatic detection and interpretation of affective touch in this area. In addition, we discuss the modalities of affective touch expressions in both humans and technology in these interactions. Second, we separately review how affective touch has been explored in human-robot and real-human-virtual-human interactions where the technical challenges encountered and the types of experience aimed at are different. We conclude with a discussion of the gaps and challenges that emerge from the review to steer research in directions that are critical for advancing affective touch technology and recognition systems. In our discussion, we also raise ethical issues that should be considered for responsible innovation in this growing area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1333-1354
Number of pages22
JournalProceedings of the IEEE
Issue number10
Early online date22 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • 2024 OA procedure
  • affective touch
  • automatic recognition of affective touch
  • emotion
  • human-computer interaction (HCI)
  • human-human interaction
  • human-robot interaction (HRI)
  • review
  • survey
  • Affective states


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