Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Haptics: just reach out and touch, virtually

28.01.2008
European researchers have pioneered a breakthrough interface that allows people to touch, stretch and pull virtual fabrics that feel like the real thing. The new multi-modal software linked to tactile hardware and haptics devices have enormous potential for shopping, design and human-machine interaction.

A revolutionary new interface allows users to really feel virtual textiles. The system combines a specially designed glove, a sophisticated computer model and visual representation to reproduce the sensation of cloth with an impressive degree of realism.

“It is a multi-modal approach that has never been tried before,” says Professor Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann, coordinator of the HAPTEX project. HAPTEX stands for Haptic sensing of virtual textiles.

The new system is a major breakthrough achieved through highly focused work of a small consortium of five research institutes. In just three years, they have created a pre-commercialisation prototype of the device and its related multi-modal software.

But it was not easy. Creating the realistic sensation of deformable textiles required a huge amount of modelling. “That was our first big challenge,” says Magnenat-Thalmann, taking precise measurements of the tensile, bending and stretching properties of the material.

“You also need very high resolution; the visual system will give a realistic impression of movement with just 20 frames a second, but touch is much more sensitive. You need a thousand samples a second to recreate touch,” she tells ICT Results.

Major challenges

In the end, the team created two models. One global model tracks the overall properties of the material. A second, fine-resolution model then maps the actual sensation on skin. All this information had to be combined with a detailed visual representation of the textile.

“That was another major problem,” notes Magnenat-Thalmann, “because the two must be in sync or the sensation will not be realistic.” Like a video with the audio out of sync, any latency between the visual and the sensual destroys the effect.

These were three major challenges from the outset, but they were just the beginning. “We had major jobs to do with the hardware, too. Nobody has combined a force-feedback device with a tactile one,” reports Magnenat-Thalmann.

HAPTEX overcame this problem by developing a powered exoskeleton glove with a pair of pin arrays that provide tactile sensation to two fingers. The glove gives the sensation of bending and stretching the fabric, while the pin arrays convey texture. Then this integrated device is combined with the visual and tactile database to give an overall impression.

Feeling is believing

“We have a working prototype device and we have validated it. It gives a reliable and reproducible sensation of real fabrics in a virtual world,” says Magnenat-Thalmann.

Reviewers were very impressed with the project’s results, but Magnenat-Thalmann says the project did not achieve all that they hoped for. “Originally, our vision was to create a system that allowed users to distinguish between, say, cotton, wool and silk in a blind test. The system is not that sensitive yet.”

It is, however, in pre-commercialisation form. The team now hopes to secure funding for a second project that will take the device from prototype stage to full commercialisation. If they succeed, it will be a first of its kind.

It will also mean entirely new markets. The textile industry and online shopping are obvious examples, but Magnenat-Thalmann also sees applications in gaming, where it could be used to make virtual worlds more realistic.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/id/89473

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Construction of practical quantum computers radically simplified
05.12.2016 | University of Sussex

nachricht UT professor develops algorithm to improve online mapping of disaster areas
29.11.2016 | University of Tennessee at Knoxville

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>