Penn Haptics Wins Best Demo Prize at World Haptics Conference

The Penn Haptics Group is the recipient of the "Best Demo Award - People's Choice" for their demonstration of new haptic texture technology at the 2013 IEEE World Haptics Conference held in Daejeon, South Korea.

Heather Culbertson, a doctoral student in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and Craig McDonald, who earned his bachelor's degree in MEAM in 2012, presented research from the Haptics Lab, and the group's demonstration, Data-Driven Modeling and Rendering of Isotropic Textures, was chosen for the award from a total of 80 entries. The associated paper was also one of three finalists for the overall Best Paper award at the conference. Also contributing to the research were Ben Goodman, a 2011 robotics master's graduate, and Joe Romano, a 2012 doctoral graduate in MEAM.

The Penn demonstration showcased the recording, modeling, and rendering phases of a new data-driven approach to haptic texture creation. Users were able to build a haptic texture model from any isotropic surface they choose, with just 10 seconds of physical interaction data needed to create the model. The attendee could then feel a virtual version of the real texture by touching the screen of a Wacom tablet with a stylus augmented with a Haptuator. The demo's software used this specialized haptic actuator to output vibrations that give the user the illusion that the stylus is touching the real texture. The entire recording, modeling, and rendering process for each surface took only two minutes.

The Penn Haptics Group is part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania and is directed by Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics. Haptics is the science of understanding and improving human interaction with the physical world through the sense of touch (see a TED video of Dr. Kuchenbecker detailing haptics technology). Haptic interfaces are computer-controlled electro-mechanical systems that enable a user to feel and manipulate a real, remote, or virtual environment. They often take the form of a lightweight, backdrivable robotic arm, measuring the motion of the human hand and providing appropriate force feedback throughout the interaction; other haptic interfaces focus on tactile interactions directly through the skin.

The IEEE World Haptics Conference offers opportunities to share the most up-to-date scientific discoveries and innovative products in the realm of touch technology. The ultimate objective is to advance the field of haptics through networking among academia, industry, and affiliated specialists and to build mutual understanding among colleagues from all over the world.

Interested? Learn more!

Penn Haptics Lab website
IEEE World Haptics 2013 website

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