Warm Contact

Warm Contact

Exploring means to facilitate rich Telecommunication amid the COVID-19 pandemic

The explorative study is about enriching telecommunication for people living in intramural care and their families. Different products exhibiting various types of stimuli were tested to explore whether these could help staying in touch in times when people were not allowed to physically touch their loved ones due to Covid-19.

The pandemic has inflicted detrimental social restrictions in the lives of many. The people who are living in intramural care homes have been affected to a substantial degree. Notably, they to a greater extent dependent on others to fulfill their needs for social interaction. When intramural care homes were amid a lockdown, older adults, people with physical or cognitive disabilities and their families have benefitted from the availability of telecommunication resources. Video calling however, has thus far been lacking the ability to match the warmth of interpersonal contact. This study therefore aimed to explore whether the integration of haptic stimulus materials in video calling could enrich the experiences for people with dementia or PIMD. Findings indicate that including haptics to adopt a multimodal approach in video calling can have a beneficial effect in times of social isolation. In particular, the products exhibiting natural stimuli and designs were valuable to the contact moments. The added value was particularly present in the provision of comfort. It contributed to an improved focus and engagement during the remote social interaction.


Dianne Vasseur

Research details

  • Involved researchers: D.M. Vasseur
  • Period: September 2020 – June 2021
  • Partners: Vilans


  • Intuitive product attributes are preferred
  • Technological products less appealing for caregivers
  • Natural stimuli over artificial stimuli
  • Materials accommodate calmness and relaxation
  • Complexity originating from processing video call stimuli potentially inflicts barriers
  • Aversive towards wearables, preference for handheld materials
  • Doubts regarding the added social value
  • Improved focus in online conversations