New York Tech Journal
Tech news from the Big Apple

#Haptic Feedback for Natural User #Interfaces

Posted on July 22nd, 2014

(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch: Haptic Feedback for Natural User Interfaces

NUI Central

Katherine Kuchenbecker, Heather Culbertson @ Univ of Penn.

7/21/2014 WeWork Labs (69 Charlton St., New York)

Katherine Kuchenbecker and Heather Culbertson both from the University of Pennsylvania presented three projects from their research on tactile feedback and proprioceptive learning. Their research considers various ways that haptic feedback can improve our interactions with computers and other machines.


Virtual textures. Heather’s research concentrates on how surfaces feel through a tool, such as a paint brush, dental pick, etc. Using a stylus with accelerometers and a force meter, she measures one’s tactile senses when we explore surfaces from glass, tile, cloth, etc. These measurements can then be played back through an actuator (similar to a speaker with a coil and a magnet) to reproduce the original sensations. Textures appear to be well modeled, but other aspects such as slipperiness are works in progress. She is also working on measuring and playing back tactile sensations in three dimensions.

Robotic surgery. Katherine presented two projects in her lab. The first was adding tactile feedback when surgeons conduct robotic surgery such as removing the prostate. Instead of operating directly on the patient, the surgeon remotely manipulates instruments through small incisions primarily using sight as a guide. Katherine’s research adds both tactile & kinesthetic feedback so surgeons can feel the tissue as well as see them. They surveyed surgeons and found that virtually all would welcome this additional feedback. Their research has shown that subjects moving blocks on pegs performed slower, but more accurately with this additional feedback.


Motion guidance. Automating guided practice in injury rehab or skills improvement can be done best with lots of feedback. The project looks at combining Kinect sensors and other motion sensors with haptic feedback. With this combination one can perfect motions in sports such as a golf swing by receiving visual feedback and a variety of other feedback such as pressure, vibration, etc.

 Katherine’s TED talk is available here.

posted in:  applications, Natural User Interface, UX    / leave comments:   No comments yet