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A Computational Design Approach to Haptic Synthesis

Principal Investigator

Miguel Ángel Otaduy

Universidad Rey Juan Carlos

Date start: 01/09/2018
Date end: 31/08/2023

Funded by European Comission

We use touch permanently to explore, manipulate and interact with the world around us, but also to feel and transmit affection. Haptic synthesis, i.e., the ability to design and control what we feel, either on a computer application or with a consumer product, bears an immense scientific, industrial, and social impact. However, touch is still poorly understood and underexploited in today’s digital era. The state of the art in computational haptic synthesis lags well behind the technological and scientific progress in additive manufacturing, computational design for fabrication, virtual reality displays, or cutaneous haptic interfaces.

TouchDesign will define a formal and comprehensive computational design methodology for haptic synthesis, applied to both tactile digital communication and to computational design and fabrication of objects with desired tactile properties. Haptic synthesis will be formulated as an optimization problem, with the objective function defined based on haptic perceptual metrics, and with the design space defined by the high-dimensional parameter space of a fabrication process or a haptic interface.

We will introduce multiple breakthroughs in four major scientific pillars.
(i) In contact biomechanics: develop measurement-based and data-driven models that enable interactive evaluation of the deformations undergone by skin mechanoreceptors.
(ii) In perceptual modeling: establish a connection between high-resolution biomechanics, mechanoreceptor activation fields, and psychophysics, through machine-learning analysis of exhaustive simulated and experimental data.
(iii) In numerical optimization: design methods that optimize perceptual metrics through robust and efficient search of the high-dimensional design space of haptic fabrication and haptic display problems.
(iv) In computational design: introduce methods and interfaces to visualize, explore, and define perceptual objective functions and haptic design spaces.