1 year postdoctoral position Proprio-kinesthetic feedback for cockpit interaction


The evolution of aircraft cockpits is characterized by a continuous increase in the number of available information and progressive system dematerialization. New concepts tend to substitute current physical devices with large tactile surfaces. This evolution offers important advantages: direct interaction with the data, flexibility of the displays, adaptability to the context, ease of maintenance, genericity and reduction of the costs etc. Nevertheless, the use of touchscreens in the cockpit presents severe operational limits. Unlike conventional physical devices (such as buttons, rotators, levers etc.) whose perception and manipulation also use the sense of touch and proprioception, tactile interfaces are very difficult to use without the eyes or in severe turbulences. Moreover, the use of these devices can  also be problematic when workload is high. In addition, flexibility provided by touchscreens is opposed to the « immutable » spatial distribution of systems and interactors in the cockpit with which pilots are familiar. Eventually, other concepts such as virtual reality are being considered for the design and evaluation of future cockpits. These « cheap » test benches also suffer from a lack of physicality that should be compensated.

Subject of investigation:

The present post-doctoral project is done in the frame of the Airtius project (http://airtius.net/) and aims to reintroduce a proprio-kinesthetic sense during the interaction with dematerialized devices such as touchscreens or virtual reality. Mixed devices, using haptic, tangible, or organic technologies/interactions, associated with tactile interactive surfaces, allow reintegration of this proprio-kinesthetic sense. New haptic technologies are appearing, as recently the so-called « ultrahaptic » technique, to create non-contact tactile sensation synthesized by ultrasound transducers. Tangible and embodied interaction (TEI) is a genre of interaction which seeks to move beyond the graphical user interface paradigm by using our bodies’ capabilities. It uses physicality and physical space to interact with digital systems.

Some of the physical devices that allow tangible interaction may also include dynamic modification possibilities. It is the organic interaction paradigm that proposes interfaces based on the dynamic deformation of surfaces, objects and/or materials of the interactive space.

Field of application:

Two use cases are interesting for the present project: the improvement of the interaction with the touchscreens in degraded contexts, and the increase of the perception of virtual spaces. The objective of the post doctorate will be twofold. 1. Comparison of the multimodal and tangible AIRTIUS environment with a 100% tactile environment, from the point of view of perception, performance, cognitive load and cooperation. 2. Exploring the possibilities offered by the « ultrahaptic » device to improve interaction and perception in touchscreen and VR. Therefore, the candidate will have to instrument the currently developed devices andcontribute to define dimensions of « physicality » to be evaluated during simple piloting tasks (changing flight parameters), navigation (modification of the flight plan) or mission management. For touchscreens, an experiment will compare the performance obtained by:

1a) a tactile interface representing rotators, sensorially augmented by haptic, tangible or organic device; 1b) conventional physical rotators; 1c) a classical touchscreen representing rotators (without augmentation). For the interaction with VR, the same task will be carried out by another group of participants (we can imagine an expert pilot on the ground taking charge of a flight in difficulty, he could visualize the situation in the cockpit via VR). In this second study, we will compare the obtained performances: 2a) in VR augmented with ultrahaptic; 2b) with conventional rotators; 2c) solely with VR. The effect of the perturbation on the performance achieved due to the different interactors will be explored through a platform recreating the movements with 6 degrees of freedom. Final a few tests in real flight will be possible.

Candidate profile:

A doctor in human machine interfaces with very good programming skills is desired. Knowledge in human factors will be more than appreciated for designing and conducting experiments with human participants. Prior knowledge of mixed or immersive real world environments is not mandatory but is considered an added value (unity framework or others).

The postdoctoral work will be conducted at ISAE-SUPAERO (Toulouse, France) in collaboration with ENAC (Toulouse, France) and will be supervised by Pr. Mickaël Causse and Pr. Christophe Hurter.

Duration: 1 year, starting date: September 2018.

Deadline for candidature: Jul 31, 2018.


Mickaël Causse

Département Conception et Conduite des véhicules Aéronautiques et Spatiaux


10 Avenue Edouard Belin, 31055 Toulouse


Tél. : 05 61 33 81 28


Christophe Hurter



Airtius Project Leader


Jean Luc Vinot



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