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Title: A soft touch : wearable dielectric elastomer actuated multi-finger soft tactile displays
Author: Boys, Hugh
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 6285
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2019
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The haptic modality in human-computer interfaces is significantly underutilised when compared to that of vision and sound. A potential reason for this is the difficulty in turning computer-generated signals into realistic sensations of touch. Moreover, wearable solutions that can be mounted onto multiple fingertips whilst still allowing for the free dexterous movements of the user's hand, brings an even higher level of complexity. In order to be wearable, such devices should not only be compact, lightweight and energy efficient; but also, be able to render compelling tactile sensations. Current solutions are unable to meet these criteria, typically due to the actuation mechanisms employed. Aimed at addressing these needs, this work presents research into non-vibratory multi-finger wearable tactile displays, through the use of an improved configuration of a dielectric elastomer actuator. The described displays render forces through a soft bubble-like interface worn on the fingertip. Due to the improved design, forces of up to 1N can be generated in a form factor of 20 x 12 x 23 mm, with a weight of only 6g, demonstrating a significant performance increase in force output and wearability over existing tactile rendering systems. Furthermore, it is shown how these compact wearable devices can be used in conjunction with low-cost commercial optical hand tracking sensors, to cater for simple although accurate tactile interactions within virtual environments, using affordable instrumentation. The whole system makes it possible for users to interact with virtually generated soft body objects with programmable tactile properties. Through a 15-participant study, the system has been validated for three distinct types of touch interaction, including palpation and pinching of virtual deformable objects. Through this investigation, it is believed that this approach could have a significant impact within virtual and augmented reality interaction for purposes of medical simulation, professional training and improved tactile feedback in telerobotic control systems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: human-computer interfaces ; tactile rendering systems ; haptic perception ; wearable solutions