Small-Scale Tactile Graphics for Virtual Reality Systems
John W. Roberts
¿¿¿As virtual reality technology moves forward, there is a need to provide the user with options for greater realism for closer engagement to the human senses. Haptic systems use force feedback to create a large-scale sensation of physical interaction in a virtual environment. Further refinement can be created by using tactile graphics to reproduce a detailed sense of touch. For example, a haptic system might create the sensation of the weight of a virtual orange that the user picks up, and the sensation of pressure on the fingers as the user squeezes the orange. A tactile graphic system could create the texture of the orange on the user¿¿¿s fingertips. In the real world, a detailed sense of touch plays a large part in picking up and manipulating small objects. Our team is working to develop technology that can drive a high density fingertip array of tactile stimulators at a rapid refresh rate, sufficient to produce a realistic sense of touch. To meet the project criteria, the mechanism must be much lower cost than existing technologies, and must be sufficiently lightweight and compact to permit portable use and to enable installation of the stimulator array in the fingertip of a tactile glove. The primary intended applications for this technology are accessibility for the blind and visually impaired, teleoperation, and virtual reality systems.