Stuti Arora

Haptic Robot Prototype in Response to Long-Distance Large Age-Gap Sibling Relationships

Sibling relationships play a crucial part in social life and are often long-lasting and unique compared to other relationships, even within a family. Parents and primary-caregivers generally act as a secure base providing support and comfort when children experience negative emotions. In contrast, siblings are thought to fulfill each other’s social needs and engage in fun and playful interactions. Although sibling relationships are characterized as hierarchical, they tend to be more egalitarian and symmetrical compared to other family members. However, maintaining a close sibling relationship can be challenging when siblings have large age differences, which usually means more asymmetric relationships and social circumstances between siblings. Large-gap siblings increasingly spend more time living apart as the older siblings transition out of the parental home, pursuing higher education or entering the workforce. Our research developed a technology prototype that can aid in developing, solidifying, and enhancing this relationship. The Haptic Bubble, an input-output device that tracks a user’s physical manipulations and provides realistic touch sensations in coordination with a computer that in turn drives a robotic system. My hypothesis is that a technological tool that considers the direct concerns of this group will lead to higher intimacy metrics and ultimately better relationships between siblings with large-age gaps. I am currently engaging in the pilot study and deployment stages, and have not reached conclusive findings on this technology probe yet; however, I’m hopeful that siblings are able to use this technology to both build and maintain better connections with each other.