Digitalization comes with the design of simplicity and effortlessness, but, at the same time, with the simplification of gestures and a significant loss of complex tactile experiences. As Heylighen argues “social and technological evolution is characterized by ephemeralization, an accelerating increase in the efficiency of all material, energetic and informational processes. (...) However, the accompanying "lubrication" or reduction of friction in all processes creates a number of non-physical problems, characterized by the increasing instability, complexity and reach of causal networks, and therefore decreasing controllability and predictability.” (Heylighen, 2002) Interaction designers utilize programming to generate tactile feedback for digital interfaces in order to bring back the richness of tactility (Levesque, Vincent, et al.). How to design embodied body gestures and interactions, beyond augmented tactility? How to design interactions that allow us to express and receive affection? From the conceptual and material explorations of softness, this thesis questions the rigid form factors in hardware interface and interaction design.

Petting a furry dog, holding a fluffy pillow, playing with slime, a breeze caressing the skin are all examples of soft interactions and experiences. Not only tactility but other senses can trigger the perception of softness. Softness, as an ideology, reminds humans to be sensitive about the capacity and embodiment of our bodies. The muscles are capable of restoring repetitive patterns as memory and responding to the environment. Based on the concept of “embodied interaction” coined by HCI scholar Paul Dourish, the embodiment is regarding the social presence and participatory status, surpassing a physical property, “having an (inter) active role in changing and becoming” (Gajendar, 2010). Consequently, interaction designers should not merely focus on the graphic user interface (GUI), but the values and meanings an interaction can deliver. An interface should be where the integration of sensors of the body and the technological devices. This research aims to reframe softness as a new perspective for future interaction designers, in addition, employs soft behaviors to design interactions with technology.