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DIS 2017, June 10–14, 2017, Edinburgh, UK
Affective Digital Text Communication
Using Physical Handwriting
Oosung Son
Tek-Jin Nam
Dept. of Industrial Design,
Dept. of Industrial Design,
291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu,
291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu,
Daejeon 34141,
Daejeon 34141,
Republic of Korea
Republic of Korea
Chang Min Kim
Dept. of Industrial Design,
291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu,
Digital text media (e.g., instant messenger) have been
widely used for communication for their swiftness and
convenience. However, they are often considered
impersonal. Based on the slow-technology paradigm
and advantages of handwritten media, we developed an
alternative to digital text media: Tele-Handwriter, an
instant physical handwriting messenger. We plan to
investigate whether the handwriting-based
communication via Tele-Handwriter can provide
affective interaction while retaining the swiftness and
convenience of digital text media.
Daejeon 34141,
Republic of Korea
Author Keywords
Handwriting; Paper; Pen; Computer-mediated
communication; Text communication; Design
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uses, contact the Owner/Author.
DIS'17 Companion, June 10-14, 2017, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
© 2017 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s).
ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-4991-8/17/06.
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.2 User Interfaces: Interaction styles.
Digital text media (e.g., e-mail, instant messenger)
have been widely used for communication for their
swiftness and convenience. However, they are often
considered impersonal or less affective [2]. For
example, people consider it inappropriate or even rude
DIS 2017, June 10–14, 2017, Edinburgh, UK
when they get a greeting card or wedding invitation via
digital text media [5].
To overcome the disadvantages of digital text, there
have been several different approaches: emoticons,
emojis, kinetic typography [6], personalized font [10]
and additional sensory channels [7,8,11]. Although
these approaches make digital text media more
expressive and emotional by complementing non-verbal
cues, there is still a need for a design research that
systematically explores methods and cases to enhance
emotional quality such as sincerity and humanity.
In this demo, we present an alternative to digital text
media based on the slow-technology paradigm and
advantages of handwritten media. Slow technology is a
paradigm that presents the need and vision for
technology that emphasizes emotional experiences
such as reflection, mental stability and satisfaction
rather than performance or efficiency [4]. We propose
using handwritten media as a means for applying slow
technology to digital text media. Several researchers
have reported that handwritten media is considered the
proper way to send an important and emotional
message [5]. Specifically, Gooch and Kelly reported
that people still prefer handwritten media [3].
We specifically focus on the potential of the emotional
experience of handwritten media and propose a new
communication medium: Tele-Handwriter, which could
provide the affective experience of handwritten media
as an instance of slow technology in the field of digital
text communication.
Tele-Handwriter (TH) is an instant physical handwriting
messenger designed to provide the emotional
experience of physical handwriting. When
communicating through TH, a message is sent by
writing on actual paper with a pen, and the received
message can also be reproduced on actual paper with a
pen. TH converts one’s handwriting into digital data,
instantly sends it over a network to another terminal
and reproduces it using the pen plotter just like
There have been attempts to complement the
advantages and disadvantages of the two media. Firstly,
a concept called shared whiteboard shares handwriting
through a digital screen [9]. An example of a
commercialized service of this is the Apple Inc. iOS10
function known as “Write it yourself.” However, simply
delivering the form of handwriting fails to capture the
value and effect of handwritten media, such as
tangibility. Secondly, in some cases, handwriting is
physically reproduced and shared. Nevertheless,
existing cases mostly focus on the context of remote
autograph signing. Interestingly, Bond [1] provides
postal services that convert the given digital text into a
handwritten-like message by a machine. However, a
message like this could be perceived as somewhat
deceitful because it is not the actual handwriting of the
sender, and the sender’s effort of handwriting is
missing in the case.
Design Considerations
We have designed TH to stimulate the feeling of
ordinary writing on a paper being magically delivered to
the receiver. Several features were derived from design
considerations below.
DIS 2017, June 10–14, 2017, Edinburgh, UK
First, the exterior of TH was designed to look like an
ordinary table; thus, the graphic tablet was hidden
under the top surface. Second, representing a received
message on a physical paper with a pen inevitably
requires writing time. To preserve our concept of
delivering handwriting instantly, we designed TH to
send and represent the message as soon as a stroke of
a character is drawn on a paper. Lastly, we expected
that the process of handwriting would convey rich
contextual information such as hesitation. Thus, TH was
designed to log the pathways of the pen’s movement
and the time intervals in between the movements to
replicate not only the shape of handwritten text but
also the tempo and rhythm of handwritten text.
TH consists of a pair of two identical terminals
connected via a network, and it is capable of
reproducing the handwriting of one user for the other
user and vice versa (Figure 1).
Each terminal of TH has both input and output
components. For the input component, Cintiq 21ux
which is a graphic tablet from Wacom Co., Ltd., was
used to sense the handwriting with a stylus. The nib of
the stylus was replaced with a 1.4-mm-thick graphite
nib so it could be used on paper, whereas the
movements were registered on the tablet. For the
output component, Axidraw v2, a pen plotter; Arduino
and Arduino-compatible grblShield were used.
The software was developed using Processing, an opensource programming language. Processing’s oscP5
library was used for the remote communication
between the TH terminals. When the tablet obtains the
pathways and the pressure information of the stylus,
the software transmits them to another TH terminal
through the network. The same software on the other
terminal then receives this information, generates Gcode and transfers the code to grblShield to reproduce
the handwriting (Figure 2).
Demo plan
We will demonstrate the TH system so that participants
can interact with each other in real time with their own
handwriting with a paper and a pen. Through this
process, we want to give participants the opportunity to
think about the emotional aspects of a handwritten
message on a paper and the emotional experience of
perceiving the contextual information of writing.
Figure 2: Usage examples of TH
Figure 3: An example of pseudo
remote setting
Figure 1: (Left) Hardware configuration of Tele-Handwriter
(right) Exploded view and system diagram
We will install a pair of TH terminals connected with a
network router at the demonstration. To simulate
remoteness, each terminal will be separated by a
partitioning wall (Figure 3). The handwritten chat logs
between the participants will be given to participants as
a souvenir.
DIS 2017, June 10–14, 2017, Edinburgh, UK
Conclusion and Future work
We presented TH as an instance of slow technology in
the field of digital text communication. TH is expected
to provide an affective experience of handwriting
communication while retaining the swiftness and
convenience of digital text media.
We hope our TH system inspires other designers and
researchers envisioning affective digital text
communication for the future. We plan to further
explore the different attributes of handwriting
communication for the next version of TH and
investigate the impact of TH on affective interaction.
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