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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2011;2011:3455-8. doi: 10.1109/IEMBS.2011.6090934.

Design and evaluation of a multi-modal haptic skin stimulation apparatus.

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Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


Human grasping and manipulation are facilitated by cutaneous mechanoreceptors that provide information about contact location, pressure, and events such as making and breaking contact. A challenge in designing haptic feedback devices for the wearer of a prosthetic hand is simultaneous display of multiple types of haptic information. We present the preliminary design and evaluation of an apparatus for relaying multi-modal haptic information. The apparatus moves a set of contact points tangentially over the skin at a controlled speed, with controlled normal force. We apply this stimulus to an artificial skin instrumented with an embedded accelerometer, and characterize the resulting signals. Vibration frequency increases with applied normal force and tangential speed, whereas vibration amplitude increases with normal force and depends on skin properties. The results indicate that different forces and speeds can, under some conditions, be discriminated using vibration signals alone. Accurate identification of speeds is provided by series of vibration events that depend on the spatial distribution of contact points. This study motivates future work to perform human perception studies and create a wearable haptic display for prosthetics based on this concept.

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