Sensory augmentation with distal touch: The Tactile Helmet project

TitleSensory augmentation with distal touch: The Tactile Helmet project
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2013
AuthorsBertram, C, Evans M, Javaid M, Stafford T, Prescott TJ
Conference NameBiomimetic and Biohybrid Systems; Second International Conference on Living Machines
Series TitleLecture Notes in Computer Science

The Tactile Helmet is designed to augment a wearer’s senses with a long range sense of touch. Tactile specialist animals such as rats and mice are capable of rapidly acquiring detailed information about their environment from their whiskers by using task-sensitive strategies. Providing similar information about the nearby environment, in tactile form, to a human operator could prove invaluable for search and rescue operations, or for partially-sighted people. Two key aspects of the Tactile Helmet are sensory augmentation, and active sensing. A haptic display is used to provide the user with ultrasonic range information. This can be interpreted in addition to, rather than instead of, visual or auditory information. Active sensing systems "are purposive and information-seeking sensory systems, involving task specific control of the sensory apparatus" [1]. The integration of an accelerometer allows the device to actively gate the delivery of sensory information to the user, depending on their movement. Here we describe the hardware, sensory transduction and characterisation of the Tactile Helmet device, before outlining potential use cases and benefits of the system.


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