WHAT IS HAPTICOMM?
A non-technical explanation of the HaptiComm system.
Topp (Revision 1, 4th August, 2018)
The HaptiComm – Haptic Communicator – was introduced to the Haptics,
Deafblind and general industry communities quite recently. Having won the
best “Hands-on demonstration” category at EuroHaptics
2018 (Pisa, Italy), been demonstrated during the Helen Keller
International Conference (Beni dorm, Spain) and winning the “Research
Applications” category in the University of Sydney Student Innovation
Awards (Sydney, Australia) a key question that is commonly asked is “What
Before proceeding with a more direct response in relation to the
HaptiComm device it’s important to first introduce the concept that
drives HaptiComm. We use a key phrase “HaptiComm embodies a paradigm
shift in accessibility, adaptive technology and disability-centric design
principles”. The paradigm shift occurs in the recognition of the amount
of personal preference that is present in the Deafblind sector for
communication techniques and the kind of tactile sensations each person
utilises within these methods. In so doing, the overall approach to
HaptiComm development is to design a platform that is as flexible as
feasibly possible (within the tactile constraints).
For this reason “What is HaptiComm?” is perhaps not the right question to
ask but rather “What do I want HaptiComm to be?” is the question you
should be posing to yourself.
The HaptiComm prototype that is currently being demonstrated represents
an application of a much broader system and capabilities. In its current
form the device has an array of 24 electro-magnetic actuators which each
have the capacity to generate a tap sensation as well as vibration to the
skin surface on both the palm and fingers. Each actuator can be
controlled individually, simultaneously with all other actuators (with
the same tactile sensation being used), simultaneously but instinctive
(same time but different sensation) or as part of a distinctive tactile
pattern of playback through the array.
Each device is individually 3D printed for height, shape and actuator
layout preferences. A hand moulds. A laser scan is taken to generate a 3D
model of the surface of the hand and fingers. From there, the outer shell
is printed on which the user rests their hand. The actuators are mounted
vertically below the user’s hand (not in direct continual contact with
the individual who has their hand on the device. Actuators then rise
and/or vibrate to reproduce a tactile sensation that represents a letter,
word or concept (at present it only generates letters). The HaptiComm is
“Live” and does the translation in real-time. At its very core, this
makes HaptiComm a character – tactile sensation converter.
So what can you change in HaptiComm? Almost all aspects of the design can
be modified if we can 3D print it at this point in time and it’s within
tactile perception constraints (the skin has certain limits to what it
can and cannot perceive very well). What you can change from the physical
Size and overall shape of the device
Size and shape of the actuator tip (that meets the skin)
Materials so long as it can be 3D printed. Predominantly
this is various types of plastic and silicone at present but will vary as
advances in 3D printing progress.
Layout, density and overall number of actuators in the
device (current maximum of 31).
the perspective of reprogramming the device you can change:
The audio waveform patterns that drive the actuators (you
can use any audio file so long as it’s a wav format).
The patterns associated with each letter, word or concept.
Duration of playback on each actuator
Timing between each playback within a pattern and between
Overall timing (egg the rhythm of the sentence)
Intensity of a vibration
Intensity of a tap sensation up to 1 Newton of force
this means is that HaptiComm provides us with a lot of flexibility to
personalise the device to anyone’s preferences for type of sensation,
shape, size, layout, materials, language or communication technique. We
can also add elements like emotional content through the natural form of
communication (e.g. smileys are not required or specific emotional
of HaptiComm are not particularly limited. Some of the possibilities are:
Speech to Tactile communication method (already available)
Receiving a phone call from a hearing person and receiving
it in your chosen format
Reading a book or article through Optical Character
Linking with your screen reader/magnifier and acting both as
a visual cue (for pointer positioning) and reading what’s on your screen
Receiving input from a braille keyboard
Real time voice activated captioning
Tactile music playback and/or musical instrument emulator
And essentially any other possible application so long as
you can send a character to HaptiComm
further information or questions please contact HaptiComm: