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Modeling Auditory-Haptic Interface Cues from an Analog Multi-line Telephone

The Western Electric company produced influential multi-line telephone designs during the 1940s–1970s using a six-button interface (line selection, hold button, intercom). Its simplicity was an example of a successful human factors design. Unlike touchscreen or membrane switches used in its modern equivalents, the older multi-line telephone used raised surface mechanical buttons that provided robust tactile, haptic, and auditory cues. This multi-line telephone was used as a model for a trade study comparison of two interfaces: a touchscreen interface (iPad) versus a pressure-sensitive strain gauge button interface (Phidget USB interface controllers). This engineering brief describes how the interface logic and the visual and auditory cues of the original telephone were analyzed and then synthesized using MAX-MSP. (The experiment and results are detailed in the authors' AES 133rd convention paper "Multimodal Information Management: Evaluation of Auditory and Haptic Cues for NextGen Communication Displays").

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