Sensory substitution via cutaneous skin stretch feedback Conference Paper uri icon


  • Skin stretch is a novel haptic feedback method that can provide a human operator with information about the magnitude and direction of an applied force. To evaluate the potential for skin stretch feedback to be used as a sensory substitute for kinesthetic (force) feedback in robotic teleoperation systems, a study was conducted to measure the ability of users to discriminate environment stiffness using varying levels of fingerpad skin stretch instead of force feedback. A new, high-fidelity skin stretch feedback device was developed that imposes tangential fingerpad skin stretch in proportion to the intended level of force feedback. In psychophysical experiments, users received skin stretch feedback with magnitude proportional to the users' penetration depth into a virtual wall. Users' stiffness discrimination capability using skin stretch was comparable to that of using force feedback. Furthermore, larger skin stretch cues were perceived by users as portraying greater stiffness without any advance training, which indicates that skin stretch feedback would be an intuitive sensory substitute for force feedback. Thus, skin stretch feedback is a promising method for conveying kinesthetic force information in applications such as robot-assisted surgery, where high levels of force feedback may not be desirable due to stability or safety concerns.

publication date

  • May 1, 2013