Haptics Projects

Haptics is to touch, as optics is to sight.

Haptics is the study of artificial touch technologies such as force feedback. With respect to haptics, our lab is primarily interested in the design of novel hand-based tactile displays (tactile feedback devices) and investigating human perception related to tactile feedback. Our lab has several ongoing projects that are described briefly below, with links to pages with more detail and related publications.

Skin stretch feedback for communicating force and direction cues

In this research, we are applying skin stretch / shear feedback to the fingertip and using these stimuli to communicate direction cues. This approach could be used to provide direction cues for navigation or general attention cueing. Initial perception studies have been conducted and show the promise of this type of feedback. Further details concerning this project and its results can be found here.

→ Related technologies are being commercialized through Tactical Haptics LLC

Active Handrest for Precision Manipulation and Ergonomic Support

In this research, we are developing a motorized handrest for the purposes of extending one’s dexterous workspace and providing ergonomic support. We do this by measuring the forces exerted on the handrest by the user’s hand and by measuring the motions of the grasped tool. Initial experiments show the promise of this approach and further investigations for improving the control of the device are ongoing. Further details concerning this project and its results can be found here.

Contact Location Display (CLD)

Recreating all of the sensations we experience during object manipulation in virtual simulations with a haptic feedback device is quite challenging. This is especially true if the goal is to permit a person to move and interact with their hands as they would naturally, and not be confined to use a bulky bench-top device In addition to the challenges of packaging a device in a compact space, these devices should not emit extraneous or unintended vibrations, to which our hands our quite sensitive. So as an alternative, Dr. Provancher had proposed to represent just some of the cues and sensations experienced when touching real objects. As part of his dissertation research while in Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab, he proposed to simply render the location of contact between the virtual object and finger. This type of feedback device is referred to as a contact location display (CLD). His research has shown this form of feedback to improve the perception of curvature and object motion [121, 119], and to be a successful strategy to maintain finger contact during contour following (Kuchenbecker, et al.). This device can also convey “enhanced” friction by applying skin stretch. Further details concerning this device and prior results can be found here.

Effect of fingertip skin stretch on the perception of friction

Rendering friction in virtual haptic simulations is quite straightforward. This is typically done using a force feedback device, such as a Phantom, to haptically render friction forces. However, this experience lacks the cutaneous sensation of fingertip skin stretch that is experienced when touching real objects with our own hands. Portraying such skin stretch would result in a more realistic interaction experience. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the addition of skin stretch to friction that is rendered via force feedback alone may also alter the perceived magnitude of the rendered friction. Our experiments found this to be true. Further details concerning this project and its results can be found here.

Rotational Friction Display (RFD)

As a means of assessing the importance of rotational friction for regulating grasp forces, Dr. Provancher designed both a bench-top and hand-mounted Rotational Friction Display (RFD) device. An initial preception expiment was conducted to guide the development of a hand-mounted RFD and an initial protototype RFD was completed. This project was a collaboration with Dr. Hong Tan from Purdue University and Dr. Federico Barbagli from Stanford University and Hansen Medical. This project is currently on hiatus and is waiting to be reconvened. Further details concerning this device and prior results can be found here.

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