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Tactile Displays

A tactile display is a device that aims at reproducing the tactile proprieties of an object, such as shape, surface texture and roughness. The most common rendering approach is the pin cushion type based on vertical pins with small (millimeter), vertical displacement. Electrical, pneumatic suction and vibrating stimulation also occur. Some examples of tactile displays are the following:

  • Harvard tactile display using RC servomotors - The Harvard display [7]isa6 x 6 pincushion display that uses commercial RC servomotors to mechanically actuate the arrays of pins. The pins diameter is 1 mm, and the pin spacing is 2 mm. Thanks to these features, the display is able to represent frequencies up to 25 Hz for small amplitudes and a slew rate limited to 38mm/sec for larger amplitudes.
  • RemoTouch - Praticchizzo et al. have developed the device RemoTouch [8], which is a tactile device allowing to perform experiences of remote touch. An avatar is equipped with an instrumented glove and the user wears tactile displays that allow him/her to feel the remote tactile interaction performed by the avatar.
  • SmartFinger - The device developed at the Tokyo university [9] is a wearable tactile display that allows the user to feel various textures while tracing his/her fingers along smooth objects. It is worn on the nail of the finger and it can provide tactile cues to the finger by means of a voice coil actuator and without touching the skin.
  • SmartTouch - This is an electro-cutaneous skin stimulator developed at the Tokyo University implemented for augmenting the skin sensation [10]. It is made up of three layers: the first layer is equipped with electrodes on the front side of a thin plate, the second with optical sensors on the reverse side of the plate, and the third is composed by a force sensor between the other two layers. The sensor has the aim to capture the visual images and translate them into tactile information. These pieces of information are displayed by means of electrical stimulation that can be perceived by the skin while natural tactile sensation is unhindered.
  • STReSS - This device developed by Hayward et al. [11] is an interesting and innovative variation on the normal pin cushion type of display. It is distinguished by the fact that it relies exclusively on lateral skin stretch stimulation. The underlying idea is that skin sensations can be aroused by stretching the skin sideways, instead of pushing it in and out. The display is made up of an array of one hundred skin contactors moved by piezoceramic actuators. The density of the array is of one contactor per millimeter square and the 700 Hz refresh rate allows obtaining a device with high spatial and temporal resolution.
  • Keio University MEMS tactile display - Kosemura et al. have developed a tactile display [12] able to render virtual surface textures using a MEMS tactile display. The display consists of large-displacement MEMS actuators. By controlling the displacement and actuator driving patterns, the display can generate tactile feeling of various surface textures to a fingertip.
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