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Haptic Discrimination of Object Size via Tactile Sensation vs. Vibratory Sensory Substitution

Description

Humans rely on a complex interworking of visual, tactile and proprioceptive feedback to accomplish even the most simple of daily tasks. These senses work together to provide information about the

Humans rely on a complex interworking of visual, tactile and proprioceptive feedback to accomplish even the most simple of daily tasks. These senses work together to provide information about the size, weight, shape, density, and texture of objects being interacted with. While vision is highly relied upon for many tasks, especially those involving accurate reaches, people can typically accomplish common daily skills without constant visual feedback, instead relying on tactile and proprioceptive cues. Amputees using prosthetic hands, however, do not currently have access to such cues, making these tasks impossible. This experiment was designed to test whether vibratory haptic cues could be used in replacement of tactile feedback to signal contact for a size discrimination task. Two experiments were run in which subjects were asked to identify changes in block size between consecutive trials using wither physical or virtual blocks to test the accuracy of size discrimination using tactile and haptic feedback, respectively. Blocks randomly increased or decreased in size in increments of 2 to 12 mm between trials for both experiments. This experiment showed that subjects were significantly better at determining size changes using tactile feedback than vibratory haptic cues. This suggests that, while haptic feedback can technically be used to grasp and discriminate between objects of different sizes, it does not lend the same level of input as tactile cues.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05