Researchers Refining Art of "Cybertouch"

Haptic technology refers to technology that allows a user to communicate by means of the sense of touch via a computer interface. It seems complicated, but such feats as vibrating phones and video-game controllers are a few examples of haptics at work. In fact, the most famous haptic device is the PHANToM, which allows users to feel what they see. Users can identify an object’s form, shape, weight, and texture. The main applications of such devices are in the fields of medicine, education, industrial design, and accessibility; helping the blind.

Researchers are looking to use the technology in the industrial field.
“Currently, physical prototypes are replaced by virtual or digital prototypes/models (Computer Aided Design - CAD) to avoid building expensive prototypes, especially in the automotive and aeronautics sectors. Increasingly, these CAD systems also allow designers and engineers to carry out assembly processes. The use of touch in CAD systems allows operators to feel forces and local stimuli similar to those in real situations, which provides more intuitive manipulation (i.e. check any defect or decide the most appropriate assembly sequence). On the other hand, different designers, which may be situated over a thousand kilometers away, often collaborate in the design and revision of products to lessen time and lower costs.”
To achieve such a feat, researchers developed the CHAS (Collaborative Haptic Assembly Simulator), which allows two experts to cooperate in real time. The system has been tried and tested in Spain and Northern Ireland. Perhaps surgeons could one day operate on patients from thousands of kilometers away. Job interviews could be done in the comfort of one’s own home. We might even be able to join our friend for a game overseas. At least we hope.
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