ICRA 2020 Keynote - Haptics for Humans in a Physically Distanced World

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An ICRA 2020 keynote presented by Allison Okamura. Physical contact is a key means for humans to interact with each other – to teach, provide physical assistance, and convey emotions. When humans are separated from each other, robots and haptic devices enable essential physical contact that is both safe and functional. In this talk, I will address haptic communication between humans and robots, humans and virtual agents, and humans and humans through novel wearable haptic devices that enable communication in a salient but private manner that frees other sensory channels. For such devices to be ubiquitous, they must be intuitive and unobtrusive. The amount of information that can be transmitted through touch is limited in large part by the location, distribution, and sensitivity of human mechanoreceptors. Not surprisingly, many haptic devices are designed to be held or worn at the highly sensitive fingertips, yet stimulation using a device attached to the fingertips precludes natural use of the hands. Thus, we explore the design of a wide array of haptic feedback mechanisms, ranging from devices that can be actively touched by the fingertips to multi-modal haptic actuation mounted on the arm. We demonstrate how these devices are effective in virtual reality, human-robot communication, and human-human communication.

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