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Touch in Virtual Environments: Haptics and the Design of Interactive Systems

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Touch in Virtual Environments: Haptics and the Design of Interactive Systems


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  • Copyright 2002
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-065097-8
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-065097-9

Get a feel for the virtual world.

  • Devices, rendering, and control of haptic interfaces
  • Human factors engineering
  • Practical applications in training and museum environments
  • Assistive technologies for people with disabilities

Haptics, the science of virtual touch, is the latest frontier in VR interface development. Modeling tactile features such as shape, texture, and density, haptics offers extensive applications for training simulators, entertainment and gaming, museum displays, and assistive technologies for the disabled.

In this book, experts from the fields of communication, computer science, and engineering bring together the most current research in this rapidly emerging field. Topics include:

  • Controlling the haptic interface: modeling, control, measurement, visualization, and rendering
  • Managing haptic data: libraries, compression, and Internet applications
  • Human factors: detection thresholds, probe design, and systems for display and feedback
  • Implementation: case studies and future plans

Discover the broad variety of influences and applications in this expanding field with Touch in Virtual Environments: Haptics and the Design of Interactive Systems.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Introduction to Haptics: How Devices Can Emulate Touch

Table of Contents


1. Introduction to Haptics.

Haptic Devices. Representative Applications of Haptics. Issues in Haptic Rendering. Human Factors. References.

2. Simulation with Contact for Haptic Interaction.

Haptic Rendering. Dynamic Motion Models. Contact Space. Impulse Force Resolution. Contact Force Resolution. Combining Haptic and Dynamic Environments. Conclusions. References.

3. Stable Control of Haptics.

Overview. Control of Haptics using Time Domain Definition of Passivity. Implementation Issue for Stable High Performance Control. Experimental Results. Future Research Challenges. References.

4. Hardware for Improved Haptic Interface Performance.

Rationale. Background. Enhanced Displacement Measurement Resolution. Torque Ripple Elimination. Conclusion. Appendix. Acknowledgment. References.

5. Six-Degrees-of-Freedom Haptic Visualization.

Previous Work. Overview. Haptic Rendering of Polygonal Objects. 6-DOF Haptic Visualization of Volumetric Data-sets. System Implementation and Performance. Discussion. Conclusions and Future Work. Acknowledgments. References.

6. Lossy Compression of Haptic Data.

Haptic Data. Low-Delay Predictive Coding. Model-Based Coding. Experimental Results, Conclusions, and Future Work. Appendix. Acknowledgments. References.

7. A Robust System for Haptic Collaboration over the Network.

Haptics over a Network. Proposal for a Haptic Communication System. Experiment on QoS Measurement. Conclusion. Acknowledgment. References.

8. Haptic Collaboration over the Internet.

Virtual Haptic World. Database Synchronization. Local Groups. Conclusions and Future Work. Acknowledgment. References.

9. Perceiving Complex Virtual Scenes without Visual Guidance.

Number and Size of Areas of Haptic Contact. Complexity of the Rendered Scene. Performance Improvement Through Practice. Simplification of Complex Scenes. Discussion. References.

10. Perceiving Texture through a Probe.

Models of Roughness Perception from Direct Skin Contact. Roughness Perception Through a Probe. Psychophysical Research on Roughness Perception Through a Probe. Conclusions and Future Directions. References.

11. Haptic and Auditory Display in Multimodal Information Systems.

Related Literature. Experiment I. Experiment II. Future Research. References.

12. Detection Thresholds for Small Haptic Effects.

Methods. Results. Discussion. Acknowledgment. References.

13. Haptic Interfaces to Real and Virtual Surgical Environments.

Haptic Interfacing to Real and Virtual Surgical Environments. The UC Berkeley/UC San Francisco Robotic Telesurgical System. The Training Simulator for Minimally Invasive Surgery. Conclusion. Acknowledgments. References.

14. Understanding of User Behavior in Immersive Environments.

Data Acquisition. Classification Methods. Performance Evaluation. Related Work. Conclusion and Future Work. Acknowledgments. References.

15. A Haptic Exhibition of Daguerreotype Cases for USC's Fisher Gallery.

Haptics for the Museum. Lost and Found: A Haptic Exhibition for USC's Fisher Gallery. Issues in the Acquisition of Three-Dimensional Objects for Museum Display. Acknowledgments. References.


The Editors.



The haptic interface is becoming an increasingly important component of immersive systems. Haptics refers to the modality of touch and the sensation of shape and texture an observer feels when exploring a virtual object, such as a three-dimensional model of a tool, instrument, or art object. Researchers in the field are interested in developing, refining, and testing haptic devices and interfaces, and applying findings from psychological studies of human touch to the simulation of the tactile sense in virtual environments. Touch in Virtual Environments: Haptics and the Design of Interactive Systems is an outgrowth of a one-day conference on haptics held at the University of Southern California in February, 2001, sponsored by USC's Integrated Media Systems Center, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center, the Annenberg School for Communication at USC, and the IEEE Control Systems Society. Many of the chapters were first presented as papers at that venue. The contributors to this volume, who represent a variety of academic disciplines and institutional affiliations, are researchers who can fairly be said to be working at the cutting edge of engineering science, in an area that is just beginning to have an impact in the design of immersive systems.

In Chapters 1-8 of this book, the contributors ponder questions about the haptic interface, such as: How can current state-of-the-art haptic displays be improved via better sensing? What are the software tools and models needed to facilitate multi-user tactile exploration of shared virtual environments? How can we optimize low-level force control for haptic devices? What algorithms and techniques are needed to convey the feel of deformable objects? How do we capture users' exploration with haptic devices? How do we compress haptic exploration data so that it becomes possible to store or transmit long interactive sessions? In Chapters 9-12, the contributors consider the impact of the unpredictable, and highly variable, "human-in-the-loop." They examine questions like the following: How can we make haptic displays more usable for blind and visually impaired users? What are the differences between perceiving texture with the bare skin and with a probe, and how do factors like probe size and speed contribute? What can we learn about human thresholds for detecting small haptic effects that will be useful for the design of hand-held devices? To what extent do vision, sound, and haptics complement or interfere with one another in multimodal interactive systems?

In addition to exploring basic research issues in haptics such as acquisition of models, contact detection, force feedback, compression, capture, collaboration, and human factors, the contributors to Touch in Virtual Environments describe in detail several promising applications. A primary application area for haptics has been in surgical simulation and medical training. Haptics has also been incorporated into scientific visualization, providing an intuitive interface to complex displays of biological and geoscientific data. In some projects haptic displays have been used as alternative input devices for painting, sculpting and computer-assisted design. There have also been instances of the application of haptics to military training and simulation, providing an accurate source of orientation information in land, sea, and aerospace environments. In Chapters 13-15 the reader will find accounts of applications to telesurgery and surgical simulation, sign language recognition, and museum display.


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