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Sensorimotor Interactions in the Haptic Perception of Virtual Objects
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE RESEARCH LAB OF ELECTRONICS
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The human haptic system, which enables all manual perception and action, is comprised of both tactile and kinesthetic sensory components and a motor subsystem. At present, many basic questions about manual resolution capabilities of the human haptic system remain unanswered. Furthermore, the mechanisms by which the sensory and motor components interact to affect manual resolution are not well understood. To gain insight into both the abilities and mechanisms of haptic perception, a computer controlled electromechanical apparatus, called the Linear Grasper, was used to explore how the human haptic system discriminates some elemental physical properties of objects through active touch. The investigation consisted of a series of psychophysical studies designed to measure human performance in resolving viscosity and mass. In these experiments, subjects utilized their thumb and index fingers to grasp and squeeze two plates of the Linear Grasper, which was programmed to simulate various stimulus parameters. During the experiments, haptic motor performance data in terms of applied forces, velocities and accelerations were simultaneously recorded. The motor data, in conjunction with the discrimination results, were used to characterize the sensorimotor performance and to investigate the motor strategies utilized in the sensory discrimination of viscosity and mass by active touch. In a related series of experiments, the manual resolution of velocity and acceleration were measured by using the Linear Grasper to move the passive thumb and index fingers of the subjects. The possible relationship between the sensory resolution limits for these properties and the active discrimination of viscosity and mass was also examined. The human haptic system, which enables all manual perception and action, is comprised of both tactile and kinesthetic sensory components and a motor subsystem.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE