Tactile Array to simulate a better understanding

Psychologists are hoping to help designers and consumers better understand how we feel the world around us, using a device developed at the University of Birmingham.

The Tactile Array, which is the work of Dave McIntyre of the university’s Behavioural Brain Sciences Centre, simulates moving 3D shapes on the palm of the hand. It uses a series of 20 motors attached to rods, which are positioned by computer to simulate the shape of an object.

“We can make spinning models on the computer and you actually feel them moving under your hand,” McIntyre says. “It is amazing. This could lead to a revolution in the world of entertainment.”

A team at the Sensory Motor Neuroscience group is using the system to i

nvestigate how the brain recognises shape by distorting the stimulus to the hand. Symon director Professor Alan Wing believes the research will aid the design of multimedia products and could benefit blind people.

The research opportunities created by the Tactile Array were revealed at the Eurohaptics conference (www.eurohaptics.org), which takes place this week at the University of Birmingham.

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