Button Simualtion and Design
via FDVV Models

In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2020.
How to design the tactility of a button?
  • Different push-buttons have varying haptic characteristics (tactility), which further leads to distinct sensations and user performance.
  • We present a novel force-displacement-vibration-velocity (FDVV) model to capture the haptic characteristics of a button.
  • We further introduce an end-to-end simulation pipeline that covers from measurements, modeling, controlling to real-time physical simulation.
  • Several applications are enabled by our approach, including an interactive button-editing tool, software-side optimization, and designing innovative buttons.
  • Want to build your own button simulator? Download our materials below and start designing your button!
Our end-to-end button simulation pipeline

Designing a push-button with desired sensation and performance is challenging because the mechanical construction must have the right response characteristics. Physical simulation of a button’s force-displacement (FD) response has been studied to facilitate prototyping; however, the simulations’ scope and realism have been limited. In this paper, we extend FD modeling to include vibration (V) and velocity-dependence characteristics (V). The resulting FDVV models better capture tactility characteristics of buttons, including snap. They increase the range of simulated buttons and the perceived realism relative to FD models. The paper also demonstrates methods for obtaining these models, editing them, and simulating accordingly. This end-to-end approach enables the analysis, prototyping, and optimization of buttons, and supports exploring designs that would be hard to implement mechanically.


All the code, data of various buttons, and the contruction materials for the button simulator are open for anyone to use. You can download the whole package at once at button_simulator.zip. Then, build the simulator step-by-step based on the readme.pdf file. Alternatively, you can download the files separately as listed below.

  • The Whole Package (button_simulator.zip)
    • This zip file has all the materials about the project:
    • Papaer and the auxiliary material in pdf.
    • Models of the physical buttons and the actuation signals to render them using our simulator.
    • Materials and instructions for constructing the simulator prototype.
    • Source code for running the simulator.
    • All the below files are already contained in this package.
  • Data of 6 physical buttons
    • Six buttons (Cherry MX Clear, Brown, Black, Red, and HP PR1101U, MacBook Pro 2011) are modeled.
    • We provide the models and the actuation signals that are used for driving the simulator.
    • Visualized graphs are also included for easier to interpret.
  • Simulator Prototype
    • All the materials and step-by-step assembling instructions for making the physical simulator prototype. Including:
    • 3D Models.
    • Laser-cutting layers.
    • Electronical components.
    • Assembling steps.
  • Code
    • Source code for driving the simulator to render six buttons based on the models.
  • Auxiliary Material for the Paper
    • This file contains the figures of models and actuation signals of all the six buttons.

PDF, 4.2 MB
Liao, Y-C., Kim, S., Lee, B., & Oulasvirta, A. 2020.   Button Simulation and Design via FDVV Models In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20).

  author    = {Liao, Yi-Chi and Kim, Sunjun and Lee, Byungjoo and Oulasvirta, Antti},
  title     = {Button Simulation and Design via FDVV Models},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
  year      = {2020},
  series    = {CHI ’20},
  publisher = {Association for Computing Machinery},
  doi       = {10.1145/3313831.3376262},
  keywords  = {Button, Haptic, Modeling, Simulation, Tactility, Force Feedback, Vibration, Input Device, Haptic Rendering, FD Model, FDVV Model},
  url       = {https://doi.org/10.1145/3313831.3376262},


For questions and further information, please contact:

Yi-Chi Liao

yi-chi.liao (at) aalto.fi

Acknowledgements: This work has been funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 637991) and by Korea Creative Content Agency (grant agreement No R2019020010). We thank Kashyap Todi for the help on button-editing tool application, Aurélien Nioche for the suggestion regarding model selection, Niraj Dayama for the suggestion on model fitting, and Marko Repo for the photo and video shooting.