Bionics & Cognitive Science Haptics Research
The Phantom is a force-feedback device that allows the exploration of virtual objects in three dimensions. We have four Phantoms (2 Desktop and 2 Omni Phantoms) and have used them for a number of projects, including comparing active and passive-guided touch in two and three dimensions and investigating haptic size perception with and without a visual counterpart.
Active vs passive exploration
A team of our in-house programmers produced an application that can display any shape visually and haptically in a virtual world and record the movements of an individual as they explore the object with a Phantom. This program can then be used to guide a another Phantom user over the same exploration path taken by the "active" (ie free) explorer.
Using the Builder program, active and passive-guided exploration on two and tree dimensions has been compared using a Phantom (or two when two Phantoms were yoked in real time). Passive exploration was found to be superior for two-dimensional exploration, consistent with our previous results using the TDS. However, active exploration was superior for exploring three-dimensional virtual shapes. Further research along these lines is ongoing.
The Builder has recently been updated to allow for two Phantoms to interact in the same virtual space, where the movements of both can be recorded and "played back". Future research will examine active and passive exploration in three dimensions using more than one finger.
Haptic illusions and visual capture of touch
Using a Phantom, we have also examined instances of when touch is dominated by vision for virtual and real objects.