Cross-Cutting Challenge Theme 2: Integrating Wearable Haptic Interfaces with Real-World Touch Interactions

Keynote Speakers (more to follow)

The possibility of creating wearable devices for augmenting human haptic abilities and experiences has long captured the imagination of inventors and researchers. Wearable tactile technologies for the hand have advanced tremendously in recent years, with several approaches and actuation methods offering great promise for furnishing users with tactile feedback including informative cues or signals, or sensations of touching virtual objects. In many hand-wearable designs, such as gloves for haptic interaction in virtual reality, the additional haptic feedback that is supplied is accompanied by a substantial cost, since areas of the hand with which we often interact with physical objects are covered or obstructed. This invariably results in a substantial reduction in wearers’ abilities to feel naturally occurring touch sensations, or to perform important manual tasks ranging from grasping and manipulating physical objects to riding a bicycle.

For emerging haptic technologies to be successfully translated for widespread use in the real world, it is increasingly important to consider the holistic objectives of both furnishing compelling and useful haptic feedback while preserving the real-world haptic abilities of their wearers. One advantageous strategy is to ensure that the palmar surfaces of the hands, with which we often interact with objects, are left undisturbed, thus allowing the hand to perform a wide range of essential manual activities that few of us would be willing to do without. Several recently proposed wearable devices furnish ideas for how these different objectives can be achieved by means of emerging hand-wearable technologies for augmenting manual touch interactions and activities. Nonetheless, many fundamental questions remain to be answered concerning how to best design wearable haptic technologies that can meet the needs of users interacting within existing work, home, and leisure environments. The challenges involved are Cross-cutting, intersecting with engineering research, design research, and issues of substantial commercial and societal importance.

Topics addressed by the speakers will include: device/actuator design and engineering, conceptual approaches for haptics that work in the real world, experimental approaches for measuring haptics in the wild, design frameworks for haptics beyond virtual reality, and more.

Speakers from both within and outside the haptics community will provide an overview of previous work as well as some provocations to make us consider new roles for haptic devices beyond those that our community covers today.