Experimental Haptics

Stanford University, 2002 - $27,000

In 2002, the Computer Science and Surgery Department at Stanford University offered CS277, Experimental Haptics, one of the first courses in haptics taught in the U.S. "Haptics" is the dynamic interaction of proprioception (our sense of space around the body), kinesthesis (our perception of external forces on the body), and tactility (our ability to sense the properties of surfaces on the skin), and of the science of using machines to stimulate these systems. The course provides students with basic knowledge of haptics, including current research and commercial potential. Students in the course gain a basic set of tools for developing hardware and software for haptics interfaces. They then form E-Teams to pursue independent projects in haptics with support of the course administrators and the Stanford Haptic Laboratory. Projects from last year's course included: linking the SensAble Phantom to a Sony Playstation to make the surgical simulation available on a low-cost computer platform; developing "Haptic Battle Pong," a video game that integrates the advanced sensibilities of the Phantom; and developing a haptic interface that uses mechanical brakes to simulate contact with virtual objects. In addition to project work, E-Teams attend a lecture series featuring key pioneers in haptic technology.

This project will improve Experimental Haptics with support from the NCIIA, based on lessons learned from the initial course. Though the first course was successful, it lacked several elements that would allow students to pursue even more complex projects or turn existing projects into commercially viable products. Students lacked access to computer hardware and haptic devices crucial to project development. The proposal requests funds for haptic interface hardware, three computers, additional supplies for hardware projects, and patent/publication/marketing funds.