Haptography: recording the feel of things

[Video Link] University of Pennsylvania's Katherine Kuchenbecker is developing technology to record what things feel like when you touch them.

When you want to learn about an object through touch, not only will you place your hand on it, its also likely that you will move your hand along its surface to understand the object’s texture and form.

With this in mind Kuchenbecker developed a pen-like tool with various sensors inside. When the tool is moved over a particular object or material these sensors collect data about that movement. A force sensor records how hard you are pushing the tool; a motion-tracking sensor tells exactly where you’ve moved it; a vibration sensor and accelerometer detects the shaking back and forth of the tool.

Haptography: A digital future with feeling


  1. It’s funny, I’ve often been sceptical about this general sort of interface improvement, but a gaming controller without rumble is a truly sad thing.

  2. The last company I worked for helped to develop a haptic device used to train dental students in giving injections into the gums. While it was clunkier than giving a real shot, it did give the students a chance to try it out on a machine and receive some feedback on their technique before trying it on a person. Like all new technology, it was a start – one day they will have this refined so it really does feel like giving a shot.

    This is a big area of interest in the engineering world right now and there are a lot of applications, some in consumer world are more novelty things, but there are some great ways this will be used in more specialized areas like medicine or manufacturing.

  3. This was a very interesting video, but I just got distracted by the fact that this post has discus at the bottom of it instead of a link to the bbs. Ack! What happened?

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