Half-day workshop on
"Wearable haptic systems: design, applications, and perspectives"

The workshop will took place on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 during the 2017 IEEE World Haptics Conference in Munich, Germany.


In the last decade, we have witnessed a drastic change in the form factor of audio and vision technologies, from heavy and grounded machines to lightweight devices that naturally fit our bodies. However, only recently, haptic systems have started to be designed with wearability in mind.

The wearability of haptic systems enables novel forms of communication, cooperation, and integration between humans and machines. Wearable haptic interfaces are capable of communicating with the human wearers during their interaction with the environment they share, in a natural and yet private way.

This workshop discusses wearable haptic systems for the fingertip and the hand, focusing on those systems developed under the framework of the EU FP7 project "WEARHAP". We will discuss the main technological and design challenges for the development of wearable haptic interfaces, and we will reports on the future perspectives of the field.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers from haptics and robotics to discuss current research and future directions, to bring wearable haptics into the everyday life.


Topics include, but are not limited to, haptic sensing and rendering systems, wearable design issues, wearable haptic devices, tactile sensing and rendering systems.

The workshop is open to any student, researcher as well as developer and end user interested in designing/using wearable displays and its applications. The goal is to encourage discussion between developers, to elaborate suitable tools and guidelines for the construction of more efficient wearable interfaces and to foster perceptual research of more advanced instruments for the investigation of the human behavior.

We also intend to provide ample opportunity for round-table discussions where invited speakers and workshop participants will be encouraged to propose questions and ponder the next greatest challenges for cutaneous feedback in wearable haptics.


13.45 – 14.55 Welcome by the organizers
13.55 – 14.15 Prof. Vincent Hayward (Université Pierre et Marie Curie), “Early tactile processing”

The mechanics of contact is to touch what acoustic waves are to audition and light waves are to vision. The complicated physics of contact, however, differ in fundamental ways from the physics of acoustics and optics. It therefore should be expected that the early stages of somatosensory processing be very different from that of equivalent stages in the other sensory modalities. The presentation will describe some salients facts regarding the physics of touch and will continue with the description recent findings regarding the early processing of time-evolving tactile inputs.
14.15 – 14.35 Dr. Alessandro Moscatelli and Prof. Marc O. Ernst (University of Ulm), “Tactile motion perception”

In psychophysical studies, we evaluated how sensory cues and prior knowledge contribute to our perception of tactile motion. We showed that the spatial distribution and the orientation of raised line stimuli affect the perceived speed and direction of surface motion, and this is in accordance with theoretical models of motion processing in the brain. In addition to raised line stimuli, producing a deformation at the contact site, mechanical vibrations transmitted to a broader area on the skin are also contributing to the perceived speed of a movable surface. Sensory estimate of movement is noisy and may occasionally lead to ill-posed problems, requiring additional a priori knowledge to restrict the solutions. One possible prior assumption to constrain ambiguous stimuli is that objects are preferentially at rest or in slow motion. We tested this hypothesis in a psychophysical study, and we proposed a theoretical model to account for the integration of this prior knowledge and sensory measurement from proprioception and touch.

14.35 – 14.55 Dr. Aggeliki Tsoli and Prof. Antonis Argyros (Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas),
“Markerless visual tracking in support of wearable haptics for humans and robots”

The development of wearable haptic systems intrinsically requires tracking of the operator’s motion. Performing this tracking by vision-based methods is advantageous because vision is unobtrusive. As such, it facilitates the design of haptic interfaces given that no sensors related to the estimation of the human hand/body pose are necessary any more. Another benefit of this choice consists of the capability of exploiting high level information, i.e. tracking can be supported and enhanced by posture recognition techniques based both on cognitive and on biomechanical models such as the sensorimotor synergies of the hand. Last but not least, computer vision also allows the capturing of scene features such as the geometry and the typology of target/manipulated objects. In this talk, we will present research carried out in the context of the WEARHAP project towards the development of a class of fast and robust algorithms for visual tracking and interpretation of manipulation tasks that support the development of wearable haptics.

14.55 – 15.15 Prof. Miguel Otaduy (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos), “Touching virtual environments through soft hands”

Direct haptic interaction with the hand places important challenges on the simulation of soft hand biomechanics. The simulation of a realistic hand should account for skeletal constraints and a soft flesh; skin is highly nonlinear, very soft under low forces, but highly constrained under high forces; and the tactile rendering algorithm itself should account for the distributed nature of contact under soft skin. In our work in recent years we have designed novel components of a tactile rendering framework that incorporate soft skin and its characteristic behavior. We have designed a simulation algorithm that accounts for skeletal constraints and a soft flesh with two-way coupling; we have demonstrated efficient simulation of the extreme nonlinearity of skin using a biphasic model with strain-limiting constraints; and we have proposed a tactile rendering algorithm that optimizes the configuration of a wearable cutaneous interface under the objective of contact surface matching. In this workshop, we will overview the features of all these components, which together enable high-quality direct touch of virtual environments.
Other contributors: Mickeal Verschoor, Daniel Lobo.

15.15 – 15.45 Coffee break and demos
15.45 – 16.05 Prof. Domenico Prattichizzo (University of Siena), “Thimbles, rings, armbands, a challenging road towards wearability in haptics”

In the past, we have worked on two main designs for wearable fingertip devices. The first one is composed of a static platform that houses three servo motors above the user's fingernail and a mobile platform that applies the requested stimuli to the fingertip. Three cables connect the two platforms, and springs around the cables keep the mobile platform in a reference configuration, away from the fingertip, when not actuated. By controlling the cable lengths, the motors can orient and translate the mobile platform in three-dimensional space. Also the second design is composed of a static upper body and a mobile end-effector. The upper body is located on the nail side of the finger, supporting three small servo motors, and the mobile end-effector is in contact with the finger pulp. However, this time, the two parts are connected by three articulated legs, actuated by the motors.
Other contributors: Francesco Chinello, Claudio Pacchierotti, Monica Malvezzi.

16.05 – 16.25 Prof. Antonio Frisoli (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna),
“Virtual serious games and wearable haptic interfaces for neuro rehabilitation of children with movement disorders”

Wearable haptic devices provide tactile sensory feedback without limiting mobility of the user. This feature well suits immersive virtual environments, and the introduction of the sense of touch allow for a more natural interaction with virtual objects. Such congruent multisensory feedback shows potential for application in neurorehabilitation. Rehabilitation exercises executed in virtual reality allow for a variety of targeted motor tasks, with parameters rapidly adapted to the patient's needs. The presence of haptic feedback is introduced to provide a more congruent multi-sensory feedback directly related to manipulation tasks; also, by enriching immersion and interaction in the virtual environment, engagement of the patient is enhanced, promoting active partecipation in the rehabilitation exercises. In this talk we present and discuss an on-going study on neurorehabilitation of children with motor disorders: in this scenario, where engagement of children becomes an even more critical factor fo rehabilitation, motor exercises are shaped in the form of serious games performed in immersive virtual environments with haptic feedback.

16.25 – 16.45 Prof. Sandra Hirche (Technical University of Munich), “Wearable haptics for human-robot team interaction”

Establishing an interaction between heterogeneous teams of humans and robots is beneficial because of their complementary capabilities. Through wearable haptics novel human-robot team interaction paradigms are possible. We explore the benefits of wearable haptic devices in human-robot team interaction where interaction is semi-autonomous or direct physical. We particularly focus on cooperative object manipulation with application in manufacturing, logistics, construction, service robotics, etc. In semi-autonomous team interaction, the human partner commands the desired motion of a multi-robot team through a wearable device. In direct physical interaction, the human partner directly commands the desired motion by applying force to the object. The benefit of wearable haptics is evaluated and demonstrated in human-robot interaction settings where the human partner is equipped with wearable haptic fingertip and vibrotactile wristband devices. Our studies suggest that wearable haptics improves task performance in human-robot interaction.

16.45 – 17.05 Dr. Matteo Bianchi (University of Pisa), “Wearable haptics and affective computing: towards a novel paradigm for HRI”

Wearable haptics has opened new perspectives for a successful HRI and HMI. Leveraging upon a minimalistic approach that targets simplicity and ease to use, in this talk we report on recent findings and devices that can convey tactile stimuli in a wearable fashion. Applications of these systems in different domains, including augmented reality, tele-operation, assistive robotics are discussed. Furthermore, we discuss evidences on how haptic devices can deliver not only discriminative cues but they can also influence physiological measures related to the autonomous nervous system (ANS), which is intimately connected to evoked emotions in humans. Discussions on how these results could be profitably employed and generalized to pave the path towards a novel generation of robotic devices for HRI are finally reported.
Other contributors: Gaetano Valenza, Edoardo Battaglia, Alberto Greco, Simone Ciotti, Simone Fani, Mimma Nardelli, Antonio Lanata, Antonio Bicchi, Enzo Pasquale Scilingo

17.05 – 17.15 Panel discussion


Dr. Claudio Pacchierotti, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

Claudio received the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Siena, Italy in 2009, 2011, and 2014, respectively. He spent the first seven months of 2014 visiting the Penn Haptics Group at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, which is part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing, and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. He also visited the Dept. of Innovation in Mechanics and Management of the University of Padua and the Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine (MIRA) of the University of Twente in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He received the 2014 EuroHaptics Best PhD Thesis Award for the best doctoral thesis in the field of haptics, and the 2015 Meritorious Service Award for his work as a Reviewer for the IEEE Transactions on Haptics. He has been a postdoctoral researcher at the Dept. of Advanced Robotics of the Italian Institute of Technology, Genova, Italy in 2015 and 2016. He is currently a CR2 researcher of the CNRS at Irisa and Inria Rennes Bretagne Atlantique, Rennes, France. His research deals with robotics and haptics, focusing on cutaneous force feedback techniques, wearable devices, and haptics for robotic surgery.
Email: claudio.pacchierotti@irisa.fr

Dr. Stephen Sinclair, Institut national de recherche en informatique et en automatique (Inria) Chile

Stephen received the PhD degree in music technology from McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, in 2012. He was then a postdoctoral fellow at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI), Paris, France, in the Institut des Systèmes Intelligents et de Robotique. He now a Research Engineer at Inria Chile, Santiago de Chile. His research interests include haptic display, sensory integration, human-machine interaction, signal processing, numerical simulation, and robotics.
Email: stephen.sinclair@inria.cl

Dr. Massimiliano Solazzi, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA)

Massimiliano is an assistant professor in applied mechanics at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. In 2010, he received the PhD degree in innovative technologies from Scuola Superiore SantAnna. He carries out his research at the PERCRO Laboratory-TeCIP. His research interests concerns: the design of robotic interfaces for virtual reality, teleoperation and rehabilitations, and the psychophysical validation of HMI.
Email: m.solazzi@sssup.it

Prof. Antonio Frisoli, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA)

Antonio is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, where he is the head of the Human-Robot Interaction area at PERCRO laboratory. He received his PhD (2002) with honors in Industrial and Information Engineering from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy and the MSc (1998) in Mechanical Engineering, minor Robotics, from University of Pisa-Italy and in Industrial Engineering from Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (1998). He has beenthe former chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics (2012-2014, awarded as the most active technical committee from IEEE RAS). Antonio Frisoli’s research interests are in the field on design and control of wearable haptics and robots cooperating with humans, upper and lower limb exoskeletons for rehabilitation robotics and human motor control, virtual reality, advanced human computer interfaces for training, Brain Computer Interfaces. Currently he is studying new designs for exoskeletons systems, portable fingertip haptics and new brain-robot interfaces. He is author of more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed international conferences and scientific journals.
Email: a.frisoli@sssup.it

Prof. Vincent Hayward, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC)

Vincent received the Dr-Ing. degree from the University of Paris XI, Paris, France, in 1981. He was a postdoctoral fellow and then as a visiting assistant professor at Purdue University, in 1982, and joined CNRS, Paris, France, as Charge de Recherches in 1983. In 1987, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, as an assistant, associate and then full professor in 2006. He was the director of the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines from 2001 to 2004 and held the "Chaire internationale d’haptique" at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), Paris, France, from 2008 to 2010. He is currently a professor (on leave) at UPMC. Since January 2017, he is sharing his time between a Professorship of Tactile Perception and Technology at the School of Advanced Studies of the University of London, supported by a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship and serving as the Chief Scientific Officer of Actronika SAS in Paris. His current research interests include haptic device design, haptic perception, and robotics. He is a fellow of the IEEE.
Email: hayward@isir.upmc.fr

Prof. Domenico Prattichizzo, University of Siena (UNISI) and Italian Institute of Technology (IIT)

Domenico received the M.S. degree in Electronics Engineering and the Ph.D. degree in Robotics and Automation from the University of Pisa in 1991 and 1995, respectively. He has been Associate Professor of Robotics at the University of Siena since 2002 and Scientific Consultant at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genova, Italy since 2009. In 1994, he was Visiting Scientist at the MIT AI Lab. He co-authored the Grasping chapter of Handbook of Robotics Springer, 2008, which was awarded two PROSE Awards by the American Association of Publishers. From 2003 to 2014, he has been Associate Editor in Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics. From 2003 to 2007, he was Associate Editor of the IEEE Trans. on Robotics and IEEE Trans. on Control Systems Technologies. He was vice-chair for Special Issues of the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics (2006-2010); chair of the Italian Chapter of the IEEE RAS (2006-2010), awarded with the IEEE 2009 Chapter of the Year Award; and co-editor of two books by STAR, Springer Tracks in Advanced Robotics, Springer (2003, 2005). His research interests are in haptics, grasping, visual servoing, mobile robotics and geometric control. He has authored more than 200 papers in these fields.
Email: prattichizzo@diism.unisi.it


Attendees can register through the World Haptics website: http://www.worldhaptics2017.org/registration