Australian engineers develop glove-like device that mimics sense of touch
Australian engineers develop glove-like device that mimics sense of touch

Researchers in Sydney have developed a new glove-like, haptic device designed to recreate the sense of touch.

By stimulating localized areas of the skin in ways that are similar to what is felt in the real world through force, vibration or motion, the haptic technology is said to mimic the experience of touch. It was developed by a team led by University of New South Wales medical robotics lab director Dr. Thanh Nho Do.

“When we do things with our hands, such as holding a mobile phone or typing on a keyboard, all of these actions are impossible without haptics,” Do said in a news release. “The human hand has a high density of tactile receptors and is both an interesting and challenging area to encode information through haptic stimulation because we use our hands to perceive most objects every day.

“There are many situations where the sense of touch would be useful but is impossible: for example, in a telehealth consultation, a doctor is unable to physically examine a patient. So, we aimed to solve this problem.”

Researchers published a study for the new device in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Access journal and have since applied to patent the technology.

The technology runs on a novel method that recreates haptic sensations through soft, miniature artificial “muscles” designed to generate sufficient normal and shear forces to the user’s fingertips through a soft tactor to reproduce the sense of touch.

“Our three-way directional skin stretch device (SSD), built into the fingertips of the wearable haptic glove we also created, is like wearing a second skin — it’s soft, stretchable and mimics the sense of touch — and will enable new forms of haptic communication to enhance everyday activities,” Read more…

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