Haptic Human-Computer Interfaces

Professor Hong Tan
Department of Electrical Engineering
Haptic Interface Research Laboratory
Purdue University

The haptic sense is often regarded as the inferior sense for its low spatial resolution (as compared to vision) and low temporal resolution (as compared to audition). However, research in the early eighties demonstrated that some deaf-and-blind individuals can receive conversational English at almost normal rates using the Tadoma method, in which the user places a hand on the face and neck of a talker and, in the absence of any visual or auditory stimulation, monitors the mechanical actions associated with speech production. Inspired by the Tadoma method, my research activities have focused on the underlying principles for the design, development, and evaluation of haptic (touch-based) human-computer interfaces. In this talk, I will describe three projects: The Tactuator, A Sensing Chair, and A Haptic Directional Display. In each instance, I will describe the design principles, main results, research issues, and applications. These examples are used to introduce the concept of "distinctive features" for interface design, and an information-based framework for evaluating human-computer interfaces. I will argue that now is the time to develop human-computer interfaces with "touchy feelings".