[Neil Movva] is not your average college student. Rather than studying for exams or preparing to defend a dissertation, he’s working on a project that will directly help the disabled. The project is Pathfinder, a wearable haptic navigation system for the blind. Pathfinder is an ambitious project, making it all the way to the semifinals of the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Haptics, the technology of providing feedback to a user through touch, lies at the core of Pathfinder. [Neil] was kind enough to present this talk about it at the Hackaday SuperConference.
Continue reading “Neil Movva: Adding (wearable) Haptic Feedback to Your Project”
If you’ve been keeping up with augmented and virtual reality news, you’ll remember that spacial haptic feedback devices aren’t groundbreaking new technology. You’ll also remember, however, that a professional system is notoriously expensive–on the order of several thousand dollars. Grad students [Jonas], [Michael], and [Jordi] and their professor [Eva-Lotta] form the design team aiming to bridge that hefty price gap by providing you with a design that you can build at home.
A quick terminology dive: a spacial haptic device is a physical manipulator that enables exploration of a virtual space through force feedback. A user grips the “manipulandum” (the handle) and moves it within the work area defined by the physical design of the device. Spacial Haptic Devices have been around for years and serve as excellent tools for telling their users (surgeons) what something (tumor) “feels like.”
In our case, this haptic device is a two-link, two-joint system grounded on a base station and providing force feedback with servo motors and tensioned wire ropes. The manipulator itself supports 3-degree-of-freedom movement of the end-effector (translations, but no rotations) which is tracked with encoders placed on all joints. To enable feedback, joints are engaged with cable-drive transmissions.
The design team isn’t new to iterative prototyping. Hailing from CS235, a Stanford course aimed to impart protoyping techniques to otherwise non-tinkerers, the designers have drawn numerous techniques from this course to deliver a fully functional and reproducible setup. In fact, it’s clear that the designers have a strong understanding of their system’s physics, and they capitalize on a few tricks that don’t immediately jump out to us as intuitive. For instance, rather than rigidly fixing their cable to the motor shaft, they simply wrap the cable around the shaft a mere 5 turns such that the force of friction greatly exceeds the threshold amount that would otherwise cause slipping. They also choose plywood–not necessarily because of its price–but more so because of its function as a stiff, layered composite that makes it ideal “lever arm material” for rigidly transferring forces.
For a full breakdown of their design, take a look at their conference paper (PDF) where they evaluate their design techniques and outline the forward kinematics. They’ve also provided a staggeringly comprehensive bill of materials (Google Spreadsheet). Finally, as justifiably open source hardware, they’ve packaged their control software and CAD models into a github repository so that you too can jump into the world of quality force feedback simulation without shelling out the twenty thousand dollars for a professional system.
[via the 2015 Tangible Embedded and Embodied Conference]
Continue reading “Open Source Haptics Kit Aims to Democratize Force Feedback”
This little device is about the size of a webcam, and it perches on top of your computer monitor in much the same way. It’s Disney’s solution to haptic feedback for gestural input. That is to say, wave your hands in the air to control a computer, and this will give you some sense of actually touching the virtual objects.
The thing shoots toroids of air at the user. We thought the best example of how this is used is the soccer ball demo in the video. A game is being played where virtual soccer balls are launched toward the user. The rig shoots out a puff of air to go along with each ball. When you get your hand in the right place you’ll feel the vortex of air and know you’ve made contact with the virtual object.
On the hardware side this is just begging to be recreated in your basement. What we have here is a 3D printed enclosure that has six sides. Five of them have speaker elements that create pressure waves when given an electrical signal. When coordinated they cause a perfect ring vortex (think cigar smoke ring) to shoot out the flexible nozzle which can be aimed thanks to a gimbal setup. Of course the element that makes it interactive is a 3D camera, which could be a Kinect or Leap Motion when built in the home workshop.
Continue reading “Disney prototype adds haptic feedback to gestural interface”
Experimentations with haptics
[Chris] sent in two videos (1, 2) documenting his experiments with haptic feedback. He’s recording the position of a DC motor and can either play it back or send it to another motor. It’s very similar to the kissing robot we saw earlier this year, but we’re not making any judgments.
Mobile Emergency Repeater go bag
[Nick], a.k.a. [KF5JAK] sent in a few pics of his emergency/disaster relief amateur radio go bag. With a 3G connection via a cell phone, the MER can be used with EchoLink.
Launchpad MIDI booster pack
Earlier this month we lamented the dearth of add-ons for the TI Launchpad. The folks on the 43oh forums just came out with a MIDI booster pack. Time to dust off that old Radio Shack keyboard, we guess.
Macro photography with OH GOD WHARGARBL
You know camera lenses work both ways, right? [Karl] has been experimenting with this very idea by mounting a camera lens backwards and running a few wires so it’s electrically connected as well. Check out an example shot.
Keeping tabs on your kids’ homework
[Janis] doesn’t live with his kids but he wanted to keep track of their homework. He set up a document scanner that sends those worksheets straight to his email inbox. All he has to do is annotate them and send them back. This guy’s doing it right.
We’ve been waiting for more information on the Nokia Haptikos, the haptic feedback touchscreen announced last October and largely forgotten until now. We knew that it would be a device that could raise sections
of its touchscreen to simulate the feel of buttons or keys, we just weren’t sure how Nokia would pull that off.
Now we have a better idea, as Nokia’s recent patent filing for the Haptikos gives away some juicy details.
The secret behind the device’s feedback is a “plurality of closely spaced voltage controllable protuberances,” or in other words, several small fluid filled compartments just under the screen’s surface. Under them are several piezoelectric members that can be controlled independently; when they extend upward, they apply pressure to the fluid compartments, raising the surface of the screen in that area.
Nokia has yet to work out all the kinks, but you can see the parts that do work by downloading the Haptikos patent application (PDF file).
Engadget recently posted a story about a flexible tactile display that can be wrapped around any part of the body and give haptic feedback to the user. The research team from Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University that developed the device are focusing on applications like Braille for the visually impaired or transmitting tactile data to a remote user, but this is just the beginning; the applications for wearable haptic feedback are wide open.
Continue reading “Wearable haptic devices bestow sixth senses”