While I was at Heatsync Labs in Mesa Arizona, [Nate] mentioned that he was really proud of helping someone build a robotic hand. I have tracked down that project because it looked pretty cool.
[Macguyver603] built this robotic hand that is controlled by a glove with flex sensors. He was originally going to 3d print the structure for the hand but the availability of the laser cutter allowed him to create something a that would be a little more structurally sound. Haptic feedback is supplied by vibrating pager motors that are triggered by sensors in the tips of the robotic hand’s fingers.
The total cost of the project was roughly $240, and there’s unfortunately no video. It did, however, earn him second place at the state fair!
[Diego] wrote in to let us know about the haptic feedback arm project with which he’s hard at work. He calls it the Vimphin, which is uses the beginning letters from the words: Virtual Manipulator Physical Interface. Instead of a claw, the robot arm has a hand grip that lets you easily move it around. That is unless the virtual model of the arm encounters a dense substance, and then it’s going to be more difficult to move.
The test arm seen above includes several high quality robotic servo motors. You probably know that servo motors have feedback circuits that let them sense their position, and this is what is used to detect when a user moves the arm. This movement is tracked in the virtual 3D environment seen on the screen. In this case, the base of the robot is sitting in a pool of water. When the end of the virtual arm is in open air it’s pretty easy to move. When it dips below the water line the motors are used to increase resistance, simulating movement through a denser substance.
This sounds like a great piece of hardware to have around when the OASIS is finally developed.
Continue reading “Robot arm provides haptic feedback from the virtual world”
It’s not that touchscreen keyboards are horrible, but it’s nearly impossible to touch type on an iPad or other tablet keyboard. A team at the Media Computing Group at Aachen University figured out how to put a series of electromagnets underneath a display to provide haptic feedback for touchscreens. They showed off their tech at the 2011 UIST conference and made their paper available.
For the FingerFlux, as the team likes to call it, a bed of tiny electromagnets is placed underneath a panel display. The user wears a ‘thimble’ with an attached permanent magnet. Driving the bed of electromagnets slightly moves the magnet and provides a little bit of sensation to the user.
The FingerFlux can be used to provide haptic feedback like a keyboard. The system can also be used to model constraints – making sure that users don’t move outside the controls they operate, and can guide the user to the desired button.
A bed of electromagnets would be a welcome addition to tablets, if only to prevent typung luje rhus. Check out the demo of the FingerFlux after the break.
Thanks go to [John] for sending this one in.
Continue reading “Tactile computer interface with electromagnets”
So we know you’ve got a lot of porn on your computer, but just how much is a lot? This concept mouse and hard drive combo aims to show you just how much digital junk you have acquired through physical feedback.
The DataBot mouse looks like a typical run of the mill scroll mouse that you might get with a new computer. Inside however, the designers have added a small servo which alters the ease with which the ball moves. The more files you have stuffed into the folder you are moving around, the more the mouse resists, giving you a sense of the physical “weight” of your computer’s contents.
The DataBot hard drive gives you a sense of how full your computer is by growing and shrinking based on space usage. During file transmissions the hard drive blinks its LEDs to indicate how fast or slowly your files are moving. When the inevitable file access error occurs, the LEDs switch to a bright red hue and the drive shakes to indicate there is a problem afoot.
With the price of data storage decreasing by the day, it’s easy to get lost in a glut of information without realizing just how much data you have. This is definitely an interesting way to get a different look at your data consumption.
Check out the videos below to see the pair in action.
Continue reading “Mouse and HDD combo show off your data gluttony”
The world can be a pretty difficult place to navigate when you lack the ability to see it. There are many visually impaired people across the globe, with some figures claiming up to 40 million individuals affected. While walking canes and seeing-eye dogs can be a huge help, [Anirudh] of Multimodal Interactions Group, HP Labs India, and some students at the College of Engineering in Pune, India (COEP) have been hard at work constructing a haptic navigation system for the blind.
[Anirudh Sharma and Dushyant Mehta] debuted their haptic feedback shoe design during an MIT Media Lab Workshop hosted at COEP. In its current form, Google Maps and GPS data is sourced from an Android device, which is fed to an Arduino via Bluetooth. The Arduino then activates one of four LEDs mounted on a shoe insert that are used to indicate which direction the individual should travel in order to safely reach their destination. While the current iteration uses LEDs, they will be swapped out for small vibrating motors in the final build.
We’re always fans of assistive technology hacks, and we think this one is great. The concept works well, as we have seen before, so it’s just a matter of getting this project refined and in the
hands shoes of those who need it.
Stick around for a quick video about the project filmed at the MIT/COEP event.
Continue reading “Haptic GPS sneakers for the visually impaired”
Can we do away with a keypad and just squeeze our phones to check messages and dial contacts? [Sidhant Gupta] has been researching the idea of an electronically adjustable spring mechanism that might just make this possible. He calls the prototype above the SqueezeBlock. If you pick it up and give it a squeeze you can feel springs pushing back against your fingers, but it’s all a trick. Inside you’ll find one motor with a gear that converts the linear motion into a rotating force. Attached to the same axle as that gear are a motor and a rotary encoder. A microcontroller monitors that encoder to detect a user squeezing the two plates together, then drives the motor to vary the resistance. [Sidhant] outlines some possible uses that included stiffer resistence as unread email starts to pile up, or squeezing the device to its smallest size to turn the ringer volume all the way down.
We’re a little skeptical of this functionality in handhelds just because of the power consumption issue. But if that is somehow overcome we think this would make a pretty interesting phone feature… at least at first. Click through the link above for a video demonstration or get the details from the research presentation (PDF)
[Ben Krasnow] is working on a force-feedback joystick. It centers around the concept of an air muscle which transfers pressure into linear motion. He cites another air muscle project as part of the inspiration in his build, but where he’s gone with it is one of the better uses for these blow-up components that we’ve seen.
Basically you have a bladder, in this case rubber tubing. A mesh surrounds it to reinforce the material and cause inflation to shorten the length of the package. In the image above there are four black air muscles that connect the base of a joystick with the outer frame that houses it. How and when each muscle is pressurized determines the type of motion the user will feel on the joystick. This is where his pressure controller comes into play. It uses a voltage-to-pressure transducer to feed a manifold, the combination of which not only makes each muscle addressable but allows him to dial in the force sent to the muscles. Check out the video after the break for his start-to-finish walk through.
Continue reading “Haptic feedback joystick uses air muscles”