This paper presents a novel wearable tactile haptic display for rendering soft body sensations to multiple fingertips with electroactive smart elastomers. The system uses newly developed multi-layered hydrostatically coupled dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs), which have been designed to apply a localised tunable force to a user’s fingertip via a soft electrically-deformable interface. The system is comprised of DEAs which are fingertip mounted and are driven individually by a wired connection to a control unit. The force applied to the user’s fingertip is based on the user’s fingertip position which is monitored by an optical three dimensional finger tracking system. This novel tactile display system is conceived to convey soft body interactions within virtual environments. To demonstrate this, a simulator capable of demonstrating virtual objects of varying tactile haptic properties has been developed. This paper presents preliminary results of ongoing testing, as well as data pertaining to the characterization of the device in terms of force response. The paper also outlines the current limitations of the proposed technology and challenges to be addressed for further developments.
Hugh Boys, Gabriele Frediani, Stefan Poslad, James Busfield, and Federico Carpi, "A dielectric elastomer actuator-based tactile display for multiple fingertip interaction with virtual soft bodies," Proc. SPIE 10163, Electroactive Polymer Actuators and Devices (EAPAD) 2017, 101632D (Presented at SPIE Smart Structures and Materials + Nondestructive Evaluation and Health Monitoring: March 29, 2017; Published: 17 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2259957.
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