Research in Engineering and Collaborative Haptics (REACH) Lab

In everyday life, we have physical experiences such as resistance to movement, texture, and stiffness through our sense of touch. To experience these properties in virtual environments (VEs), computer interfaces are required to enable users to interact with virtual objects. Haptic technology enables computer users to touch and/or manipulate virtual or remote objects in simulated environments or teleoperation systems. If haptic cues (e.g. touch sensations) are displayed in addition to visual and auditory cues, these VEs are called haptic-enabled virtual environments (HEVEs).

Haptic research is intrinsically multi-disciplinary, incorporating computer science/engineering, control, robotics, psychophysics, and human motor control. By extending the scope of research in haptics, advances can be achieved in existing applications such as computer-aided design (CAD), tele-surgery, rehabilitation, scientific visualization, robot-assisted surgery, authentication, and graphical user interfaces (GUI) to name a few. Thus, the potential benefits of research in this area are far reaching. Haptic-enabled virtual reality (VR) applications require interactions between humans and computers. Due to the complexity and variability of the user’s physical motion, it is difficult to generate a precise mathematical description of human motor control behavior. It is also very difficult to mathematically model both the user’s hand and the interaction among the hand, the haptic device, and virtual objects. Thus, human-factors studies are required to recognize the limitations and capabilities of the user.

At REACH lab, we develop new applications of haptics in medicine, industry, education/training, human-computer interaction. In addition, human factor studies are conducted in regards to adding haptics in various applications. CE-470/670: Haptic Systems course provides the required theoretical and practical background to design and development of haptic systems and the necessary foundation to incorporate human factors into various haptic applications.