The Whole World In Your Hand: Major Advances In Haptic Technology

Recent advances in scientific research may allow robotic prosthetics and virtual reality simulations to be even more effective than before. Researchers in Hong Kong have developed a new, glove-like technology that not only allows users to experience sensations in their hands when interacting with virtual objects but customizes the intensity of sensations according to the sensitivity levels of a person’s nerves.

Haptic technology is defined as technology that relies on computer-induced forces, vibrations, or motions to provide people with an artificial sense of touch. This technology, along with virtual reality, has become more relevant in the medical field within the past decade. Not only do surgeons rely on virtual reality to perform surgeries, but haptic technology can vastly improve the lives of amputees with robotic prosthetics. In recent years, researchers have found that robotic prosthetics with the ability to provide an artificial sense of touch to patients significantly decrease the mental effort required to operate the prosthetic. An artificial sense of touch can also improve patients’ overall ability to control their prosthetics.

While scientists have developed haptic technology for clinical application in the past, previous attempts have often been bulky, inconvenient to use, and have not been customizable for each user.

Now, researchers have developed a new iteration of haptic technology that involves an ultrathin, glove-like technology called WeTac. WeTac contains several electrodes throughout the glove structure and provides electrical feedback to users to induce sensations of touch throughout their hands. This technology not only has the potential to improve the outcomes of robotic surgeries but is a significant development in haptic technology that could also be applied to those who are disabled and using robotic prosthetics.

Read the full article on Forbes.

© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.