Touch the Untouchable


Fig 1: Basic concept of this system.


Fig 2: Overview of the interface


Fig 3: Shape recognition using this interface.

In the real world, we usually touch real objects which are put on reachable area.
However, we cannot touch real objects which are put on unreachable area in daily life.
The meanings of ”unreachable objects” are not only they exist in distance, but also they exist in showcase or restricted area such as showpieces at science/ art museums.

If status of remote objects can be measured in real time, we can feel a reaction force from the remote objects with a haptic interface(Fig 1).
Fig 2 shows overview of the prototype system.
The system consists of a laser range finder, computer and a 1 degree-of-freedom haptic apparatus.
Since the laser light can go through glass, the laser range finder can measure the distance to an object even though the object is placed beyond a transparent glass.
Therefore we can measure the distance to an untouchable object without any pre-recorded data.
The haptic apparatus can generate a reaction force based on a distance of a remote object that is measured by the laser range finder.
A user can feel the shape of a remote object by holding this interface and pointing the object (Fig 3) .

This interface can be applied for understanding the characteristics of the objects in educational situation or for quality inspection of engineering products.

Introductory movie of Touch the Untouchable for World Haptics Conference 2009(mpeg4 6.7M) >>

Hiroaki Yano, Yuichi Miyamoto, Hiroo Iwata :
Haptic Interface for Perceiving Remote Object Using a Laser Range Finder,
Proceeding of World Haptics Conference 2009 (pdf) >>

IEEE spectrum Online(an article) >>