In current remote interaction and virtual reality information can be shared visually and auditory, e.g. we could see and hear each other online. In virtual reality we could add avatars and an immersive environment to make the interaction more lively. However, one crucial part is still missing, haptic interactions. We cannot feel remotely and we cannot feel virtual objects. This missing link in the haptic feedback loop is often approached with solutions based on vibrations or force feedback.
In material science and soft robotics smart materials and flexible materials with soft robotic functions are being developed, e.g. materials that can change their surface texture or absorb/release moisture in response to external stimulus (light, electricity, heat). In this project the possibility of applying these smart materials in haptic interactions will explored. The (smart) materials will be selected and tested based on their potential to be used in human haptic interaction by comparing their capabilities with those of the human haptic sense. Suitable (smart) materials will be developed further in collaboration with material experts and will be combined with more conventional methods for haptic feedback to create a wide range of virtual haptic touch.
The PhD candidate is expected to explore and develop new possibilities for haptic
nteractions by using soft and smart materials. For example by comparing the functionalities
(and controllability) of smart materials with human haptic sensing capabilities to identify a relevant use case (e.g. on surface roughness), but also by developing and testing prototypes of (components for) devices for soft and smart haptic interaction in user studies.
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