Haptics - The Science of Touch Simulation
Published on 19 Oct 2014. Written by Roboversity
Introduction to Haptic
Haptics is the science which involves the application of touch sensation in interaction or
association with computer applications. Basically, it’s a technology involving tactile feedback
system which is able to regenerate the sense of touch by a simple application of vibrations,
force and motion to the respective user, who receives this felt sensation through their hands
or other body parts. The most distinguishing feature of haptics technology is the fact that, it
enables information exchange between the body and the outside world through a simple tactile
interaction system. There have been numerous advancements in the field of haptic technology
since its inception, more and more multi-disciplines are engaging in extensive research in this
field, to try and incorporate it into different applications which could prove to be more effective
as well as efficient with inclusion of this massive haptic technology.
A brief history of Haptics
Haptics originates from a Greek word “haptesthai” which is a reference of both kinesthetic and
tactile senses. Haptics started gaining interest in the early 20th
In the 1950s-1990s scientists gained more interest and exclusive research started in the
perception, rendering algorithms and devices in regard to haptic technology. Extensive research
in this field has been done by scientists, since its origin in the early 20s drawing a lot of curiosity
which made it such an essential tool in the first growing tech world. The experts and especially
the scientists involved in this field of technology have extensively carried out developmental
procedures, creation of better force and tactile feedback systems with their supporting software,
with an aim of enabling users to be able to operate 3D virtual objects. This response system has
been made in a way to be able to sense such features and characteristics i.e. weight, texture,
shape and temperature. With different multi-disciplines adapting these new haptic technologies,
the growth of haptic is eminent in the modern world, since various fields are incorporating this
system with exclusive research ongoing every day.
century in the field of psychology.
Latest trends and Research in haptics
There has been a great advancement in the development of haptic technology, especially in
the medical field. Latest developments in endoscopic technologies have positively influenced
the medical surgery leading to a minimally invasive form of surgery. With haptics technology,
the advancements that have been made have guaranteed precise surgeries with an integration
of a medical impression guidance system. Use of haptic technology in medical robotics has
revolutionized the medical world in the recent past due to the impressive capabilities embedded
within the functioning of this robotic system. The major advantage of this system is the fact that,
it is able to optimize mechanical structure as well as an extensive ability program to execute
assistive functions. This is essential in medical robotics especially to enable the surgeons
perform their functions safe and accurate.
A lot of efforts by the haptic researchers have been exemplified in the application areas i.e.
medical training, surgical stimulation, scientific visualization as well as assistive technology;
this is specifically for those who are visually impaired and the blind. A lot of research especially
in the field of education has been conducted in regard to efficacy of interactive visual-haptic
simulations in teaching especially in the following disciplines: engineering, science, mathematics
and technology. There is even more research in the medical field with development of medical
robotics. Extensive research is still on going to make it more applicable in surgery with no
human assistance. The accuracy in medical surgery using medical robotics has been enhanced
and a research by haptic scientists has been overwhelming to ensure the robotics work as
efficient as they are designed with the haptic technology integration.
In addition to the specific research on this topic, there are other disciplines that have researched
extensively on haptics with an objective of integrating the technology into their systems.
However, the complexity of very advanced haptic technology systems requires multidisciplinary
cooperation; to effectively develop essential systems based on the haptics to create a program
that is functional in respective to the intended purpose.
The science of haptics technology
As it has been stated, haptics generally means the sense of touch or tactile feedback system.
This field of haptics has grown inevitably and broadly to incorporate various disciplines which
include cognitive scientists, robotics, computer science, engineering, developmental and
experimental psychology. In all these multi-disciplines haptic researchers have been trying to
develop essentials i.e. supporting software which is meant to enable users to manipulate virtual
objects and also enable them to sense or feel. The science of haptics technology has been diverse
due to the various fields and multi-disciplines who have found interest in its application. Latest
trends in haptics are proving to grow day by day as most of the people and scientists throng into
this field due to its interesting nature. Modern technologies especially in scientific disciplines
have aided quality advancements and trends in the haptics technology.
Interesting facts about haptics
One more interesting fact about haptics is in its basis, the human haptics which has developed
to become the subject of the recent study involving machine haptics has been of real concern.
There exists several and broad haptically essential object detection, which involve hardness,
shape as well as thermal conductivity. Haptic researchers and experts have reported the ability of
easy discrimination of textures and even shape with or using the haptic sense alone, however the
shapes detection is to a lesser extent. According to various researches that have been conducted
on this subject matter it suggests that haptic information processing among the grown-ups is
basically an interpretation of certain stimulus which in this case could be hard or soft and rough
or smooth. It has been a subject of argument on the ability of texture and shape recognition
improvement with inclusion of vision. There is no substantive conclusion on the similarity that
exists between visual and haptic information processing.
Concepts of haptic technologies
Haptic technology involves basic concepts in its application mode. Force is a major concept
which underlines the basic concepts of haptics. Force is used to describe and also explain
virtual objects, and how they are created and established. This force concept is very vital
especially because of the three main reasons. Force is a concept which can be marked as readily
available throughout our life on day to day basis. The intuitive meaning of force is a close
approximation of the real specific meaning of it, with the use of force concepts it simplifies all
the understanding of haptic technology since it creates a foundation. The next concept involves
the haptic interfaces, which are programmed to function as required and they are basically
defined by the force producing devices. This is a major factor in haptic technology. Lastly, the
force concept has allowed an easy demonstration of haptics interaction in a very convenient
manner. Due to this factors or reasons the physical concepts such as the mechanical energy was
less applicable in haptics technology.
Haptic arm using Arduino
In the recent advances in regard to robotic technology, robots have been developed with
the ability to work by themselves with minimal aiding requirements. This is such a greater
advantage, with the fact that human machine interaction is minimal. This is an effective way
in which haptic technology has been used exclusively through its integration in robotics. Even
though there is more advances and technological developments in this field of haptics, people
are still weary, and have had fears with this multifunctional robotic creatures. Although this
robotics according to research that has been conducted on them, they are quite efficient but the
fact that their working capabilities are in question in regard to certain areas i.e. robotic surgery
and hazardous material handling this leaves a big question which is readily answered by haptic
Haptic arm is critical in such circumstances as the ones mentioned above. Haptics involves
an amazing technology where human machine interaction as well as touch or tactile feedback
system is observed and which is used to control and direct the robots. There are various haptic
arm workshops which are quite essential in helping engineers learn this important technology
of haptic arm. This haptic arm technology uses gestures that are established by robotic actions.
The Arduino is one such famous integrated development environment and involves a hardware
boarded with the ability to control actuators; this control action only depends on the generated
Technologies involved in haptic arm
Bringing this new development in to functioning mode involves different technologies, which
are part of the whole development process. The software and the hardware involved in the
Arduino development platform are essential in designing the robotic arm as well as its control
mechanisms or procedures. A good knowledge of engineering platform is important in the
development of haptic technology i.e. in the circuit assembling with incorporation of sensors, DC
motors and also the Arduino development board. All these, fall under haptic interface.
Different technologies are used in the general haptic technology, most importantly is the haptics
applied with each technology being critical. Haptic perception involves the perception of the
different characteristics or features of objects with the use or through touch. Haptic rendering
is crucial where sense of touch is calculated in order to get the accurate positioning. Focuser
the haptic process may not be complete with a telepresence as well the virtual reality systems.
Talking about virtual reality systems, it provides a virtual environment where interactions are
created enabling the participants to communicate via tactile feedback mechanism with virtual
Want to create your own Arduino-powered Haptic arm? Click here for details