Sensor, actuator and manipulator
Over the past few decades, due to technological advancement, the sensors and transducers achieved increased sensitivity and SNR along with decreased power consumption and size. This is well complemented to the development of low power and miniaturized actuator systems which are more efficient and can handle significant power. However, state of art sensory-actuator systems is still far from the need of an high fidelity haptic device as the systems needs to have low-inertia, low-friction, low backlash and small-size (to form array) while offering high back-drivability, load handling capacity and resolution.
Distributed energy transduction system
One major difference between natural and artificial haptic systems is the distributed sensory and energy storage & transduction system. In biological system actuators are highly distributed and electro-chemo-mechanical transduction happens in every cells distributed throughout the system. In artificial haptic system incorporation of distributed transduction system can improve its sensory and manipulation capability. Similar distributed energy system is also the core of many non-conventional energy harvesting systems like vibrational (automobile and sea-wave), solar, wind and bio-electrochemical energy harvesting systems.
Electronic driver and controller
High current handling capacity, dynamic range and low latency data transfer is key for any electronic drivers and controllers suitable for force feedback haptics devices. High throughput data transfer in any modern personal computer is commonly available but communication latency is still a bottleneck for haptic controller design. On the other hand, haptic devices like tactile displays need specialized electronics to drive arrays of different types of actuators. In this regard efficiency, voltage & current rating, safety, wearability and form-factor imposes tough constraints for the electronics and wire harness design.
HCI, VR, IoT, tactile-net and education
At present computers are integral part of many products we use in our day to day life starting from smartphone to ATM to car. Different haptic technologies, especially the vibrotactile systems play a key role in Human Computer Interface (HCI) of those systems. We can make video calls with high fidelity audio and video stimuli but transmitting touch stimulus over internet is still a challenge. With the advancement of digital connectivity, IoT and VR technologies remote tactile communication is becoming highly demanding in the area of e-commerce, social & personal interaction, security, design & manufacturing and education.
Bio-medical engg. and skill training
Haptics plays an important role in skill training of high risk industrial workers and novice medical students especially in the field of minimally invasive surgery. Apart from that in the field of rehabilitation and personal health monitoring Vibro- & electro- tactile displays, haptic manipulators and warable bio-signal monitors plays a critical role. In the field of rehabilitation visually challenge people take advantage of their enhanced human haptic system when they use a cane for navigation or braille for reading. In extreme situation human haptics involved in tadoma can defeat both the visual and auditory impairment.
Neurophysiology and psychophysics
Understanding neurophysiology of somatosensory and motor system is critical for developing any haptic system. Haptics being the most fundamental, robust and distributed sensory system its complex peripheral nervous system includes wide varieties of mechanoreceptors. Besides neurophysiological experimentation, modeling and psychophysical experimentation are also important to get deeper insight of human haptic system. As haptic sensation closely interacts with vision (the most derived and intricate sensation) and audition (the most dynamic sensation) study of cross modality perception helps in developing better haptic technologies.
Interdisciplinary Engineering Area: Haptics, Biomedical engineering, Point-of-care technologies, Rehabilitation engineering, Mechatronics, Robotics, IoT, Renewable energy systems, Distributed transduction
Basic Science Area (Physiology and Psychology): Physiological modeling especially related to biological sensory systems, Lumped parameter modeling of bio-electrical and bio-mechanical systems, Electrophysiology, Psychophysics.
Ongoing Applied Research Projects at InSPIRE Lab