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Published on Sep 6, 2018
In this paper, we propose using the auricle – the visible part of the ear – as a means of expressive output to extend body language to convey emotional states. With an initial exploratory study, we provide an initial set of dynamic and static auricular postures. Using these results, we examined the relationship between emotions and auricular postures, noting that dynamic postures involving stretching the top helix in fast (e.g., 2Hz) and slow speeds (1Hz) conveyed intense and mild pleasantness while static postures involving bending the side or top helix towards the center of the ear were associated with intense and mild unpleasantness. Based on the results, we developed a prototype (called Orrechio) with miniature motors, custom-made robotic arms and other electronic components. A preliminary user evaluation showed that participants feel more comfortable using expressive auricular postures with people they are familiar with, and that it is a welcome addition to the vocabulary of human body language.