During tactile exploration of a surface both, tactile and kinesthetic information can be obtained by moving the hand actively over the surface of an object. The intended purpose is to gather detailed information of the object’s surface. Thus, one would expect intuitively that tactile sensitivity should be best during active exploration in order to perceive as much structural features as possible. However, it is known that the sense of touch degrades during active limb movements.
One of our research goals is to answer the question how precisely proprioceptive information influences tactile perception. Therefore we use novel tactile and kinesthetic displays to investigate the interaction of multimodal information. Results can be taken into account to develop new tactile and haptic devices in order to generate more realistic virtual environments.
Tactile & Haptic Motion
Today, human-machine interfaces are mostly restricted to the visual and auditory modality. Depending on the task, e.g., in aviation these modalities are almost at their limits of information reception. In order to facilitate the perception of crucial information the tactile sense is being centered because of its low demanding and intuitive information transfer. The “tap on the shoulder principle” illustrates the opportunity of this sensory channel. By tapping someone’s shoulder one can immediately attract someone’s attention to a specific location. A tactile vest, which takes advantage of this principle, is already being used in several fields of application, for example in aerospace. However, there are many arising questions regarding the perception of moving stimuli on the skin. We are especially interested in the effect of visual and auditory input on the perception of moving tactile stimuli. Results of this research will shed light on the understanding of tactile perception and could enhance the development of new tactile devices.