Tactile Feedback at the Finger Tips


We present a new tactile feedback system for finger-based interactions in immersive virtual reality applications. The system consists of tracked thimbles for the fingers with shape memory alloy wires wrapped around each thimble. These wires touch the inside of the finger tips and provide an impression when they are shortened. We complement the impression on the finger tips by a subsequent vibration of the wire to generate a perceivable tactile stimulus over a longer period of time. The shortening and relaxation process of the wires as well as the vibration is controlled through a micro-controller receiving commands from the virtual reality application.

We use the tactile feedback for communicating finger contacts with virtual objects in an application prototype for usability and reachability studies of car interiors. Our experiments with the system and an initial pilot study revealed that this type of feedback helps users to perform direct manipulation tasks with more reliability. Our users also preferred the system with tactile feedback over a system without the feedback.