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Cross-cutting Challenges - Theme 1: Interactive Discussions
Cross-cutting Challenges
California East
Enhancing Human Performance with Wearable Haptics
Marcia K. O'Malley
(Rice University, USA)
Abstract: Wearable haptics refers to systems worn on the body or integrated into clothing that can provide haptic feedback to the wearer in a wide range of forms, such as vibrotactile, cutaneous, skin stretch, pressure, and kinesthetic feedback. The potential for wearable haptics is supported by technological advancements in sensing and actuation that allow for the design and deployment of flexible materials, fabrics, and small-footprint actuators that can augment and enhance human performance. While rigid and grounded haptic feedback devices have been explored as a means to train new motor skills, rehabilitate movement coordination after neurological injury, and even augment human force output capabilities in tasks such as lifting or running, the application space is limited due to the weight and scale of such devices. Vibrotactile feedback has long been used for notifications and alerts in portable devices such as phones and now smartwatches and fitness trackers, but the set of possible notifications is limited by the nature of the eccentric motors so often used to deliver such cues. In recent years, my group has been shifting to wearable haptic systems that provide multiple haptic modalities of feedback to the user, including vibration, skin stretch, pressure, and kinesthetic feedback, all packaged in bands that can be worn on the arm, or in hybrid rigid-soft exosuits that can apply forces directly to the limbs. We are particularly interested in applications where the provision of such feedback has a measurable impact on human performance. For example, we have shown the value of adding vibrotactile slip feedback to kinesthetic feedback when manipulating virtual objects, and deployed a skin stretch system to provide proprioceptive information to an amputee using an advanced prosthetic device. We have recently developed methods for real-time feedback of movement smoothness in complex manual control tasks, and have showed that such feedback can beneficially alter task completion strategies. As well, we have demonstrated that compact cutaneous feedback and guidance can be as effective at training a new motor skill as a rigid, grounded, kinesthetic feedback device. With further development of novel actuation technology, new materials, and sensors that can even be woven into our clothing, our wearable haptic systems will benefit from rich, high-resolution data that capture human intent and movement, and will be able to provide ever increasing fidelity of feedback to maximize human capabilities.

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Time stamp: 2019-05-22T03:35:38+02:00