Open Sesame: An Exploration of Our Haptic Sense in Everyday Digital Doors


The advent of electronics and digital technologies in the last century has brought some significant changes in how we use and behave around doors. In this development, progress seems to imply a use of automation or shying away from physical interaction, and consequently a subtle yet potentially rich channel of information.

Open Sesame explores an opportunity and complementary perspective of leveraging digital technology to enrich the use of our haptic sense in future doors. The project poses an example situated in an office environment and builds on methods of hardware sketching to design a set of haptic door behaviours that reflect the state of a space. The resulting perspective attempts to make digital information about a room accessible for the user at a glance whilst reimagining the role of the door as a more active representative of the rooms it connects.

Inspiration and Method

Throughout the project I have been thinking with my hands, prodding the world of doors, gathering stories and building different haptic sensations to create a core for further dialogue.

Open Sesame originates from a series of everyday observations and a lifelong fascination for seemingly ordinary objects and behaviours, things that often go unseen or are taken for granted. From this personal point of view, the topic of doors and our physical relationship to them was less of a shot in the dark and a foundation for the questions I came to ask.

What are the qualities of physical interaction with doors and what happens when viewing computational technology in doors from a haptics first perspective?

More so, I viewed the project as an opportunity to learn more about haptics and developing within the field of haptic interaction design. Working with and communicating haptic sensations in this format exposed valuable challenges that generated a climate for reflection on current and future methodologies.


After nearly 17 weeks of living with this project and diving into related topics. I would describe the result as a perspective rather than a final design concept or artefact. The questions I have come to pose along the way are explorational and aim at looking at a possible role of considering our haptic sense in designing for digital doors. The concrete example is quite simple: the door is seen as a representative that alters the way it feels based on the state of the room.

However the perspective could also be abstracted into the notion of the door as a physical sheet connecting two dynamic worlds. This might be an oven, fuse box, car door or the lid of your lap top. As this space for design open up, a range new questions starts to appear.
Perhaps this is what I found most compelling of all.

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