Toward wearable pneumatic haptic devices for microscale force feedback applications

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Title: Toward wearable pneumatic haptic devices for microscale force feedback applications
Author: Frazier, Athena
Abstract: The addition of haptic feedback to systems and devices allows a human user to gain a more complete understanding of the remote environment they are working in. Several applications, such as robotic minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and virtual reality gaming, have drawn interests for integrating haptic or tactile feedback onto remote operating tools. While both research studies and commercial products have clearly demonstrated the benefits of adding haptic feedback, many open questions remain for reaching the full potential of haptic feedback. This research focuses on investigating how light-weight, low-cost pneumatic haptic devices can be deployed on human hands, possibly in multiple locations, to enhance user comprehension of force feedback. The aim is to enhance the understanding of microscale pneumatic devices in their potential and limitations as a wearable haptic feedback system. This work investigates the design, construction, and testing of a binary pneumatic tactile display. Pneumatically actuated devices are chosen because they are light-weight, low-cost, and less-invasive in nature. Arrays of pneumatic balloons of different sizes were designed and constructed by taking into consideration the ease of the fabrication process and the effectiveness of feedback when placed on human hands. Human perception experiments were performed to test the pneumatic balloon arrays to determine the potential of providing binary haptic feedback. The results showed differences in sensitivity due to the location where the balloon array is placed as well as the size of the device. In addition, it appears that the use of multiple balloon arrays placed in different parts of a human hand can improve the overall effectiveness of the feedback, even if they are not placed on the most sensitive areas. Lastly, the experiments demonstrated the potential of using multiple pneumatic balloon arrays to produce identifiable binary patterns.
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Date: 2010-01

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