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Title: Towards soft laterotactile displays and smart skins
Author: Knoop, Lars Espen
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 8351
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2016
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Humans are extremely adept at interacting with the world through touch and eliciting meaningful information through touch. Current handheld and wearable electronic devices provide very limited tactile feedback to the user. The ultimate tactile device should be able to stimulate the full range of mechanoreceptors in the skin, to elicit any sensation. Our skin is soft and compliant, so wearable devices should be soft, conform to and move with the user. Smart materials could hold the key to development of low-cost high-resolution soft tactile devices. This thesis is working towards a vision of entirely soft and compliant tactile devices using smart materials. Laterotactile stimulation, where tactile elements move parallel to the skin surface to create regions of stretching and compression in the skin, would seem perfectly suited for such applications. Although there are examples of laterotactile stimulation in the literature, this area is largely unexplored. We present a psychophysical study comparing the tactile sensitivity to normal and lateral stimuli. We present and characterise a compliant laterotactile display prototype for stimulation of the glabrous skin, using Dielectric Elastomer Actuators. This technology will readily scale up to large arrays and large devices and scale down to micro-stimulators. Real-world tactile interaction often conveys inherent meaning and affect. Taking inspiration from recent work in neuroscience, we have developed the Tickler; a soft laterotactile display that strokes the wrist. The Tickler creates natural-feeling sensations, and highlights opportunities for soft technologies in haptics. We show that the perceived sensation of affective haptic devices can be modulated by the context in which it is presented, and the nature of the modulation is stimulus dependent. This has significant implications for the evaluation of affective haptic devices. We consider how follicular structures in Nature can be mimicked in robotic skin and haptic devices, and present a first example of a follicular skin device for two-way gesture-based tactile communication. These developments provide the important foundations for new devices that mark a paradigm shift in our physical interactions with technology and the virtual world.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available