Touch is a fundamental aspect of interpersonal communication. Whether a greeting handshake, an encouraging pat on the back, or a comforting hug, physical contact is a basic means through which people achieve a sense of connection, indicate intention, and express emotion. In close personal relationships, such as family and friends, touch is particularly important as a communicator of affection.
Current interpersonal communication technology, such as telephones, video conferencing systems, and email, provides mechanisms for audio-visual and text-based interaction. Communication through touch, however, has been left largely unexplored . unexplored. In this paper, we describe an approach for applying haptic feedback technology to create a physical link between people separated by distance. The aim is to enrich current real-time communication by opening a channel for expression through touch.
For quite some time, most computer-based simulations of objects were only visual. The user usually had to look at a computer screen or don a headset to give him or her access to three-dimensional objects. Later, sound became possible and it improved the simulation experience. Until recently, however, one key element has been missing: the ability to feel the object, to get a sense of:
How heavy it is
How the surface texture feels
How hot or cold it is
For example, if a user tried to grab a virtual a ball, there was no non-visual way to let the user know that the ball is in contact with the user's virtual hand. Also, there was no mechanism to keep the virtual hand from passing through the ball.
Haptic research attempts to solve these problems. Haptics (from the Greekhaptesthai "to touch") refers to the modality of touch and its associated sensory feedback.
Haptic feedback devices and supporting software permit users to sense ("feel") and manipulate three-dimensional virtual objects in terms of shape, weight, surface textures, and temperature.
Many Haptic devices are employed in the area of Virtual Reality; however, that term refers more commonly to an artificial environment created with computers and software and presented to the user in such a way that it appears and feels like a real environment.
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