A Skin Deformation Device with Force Sensing for Augmentation of Tactile Information

Yoav Antebi Chen Avraham Ilana Nisky
Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

When manipulating objects, our sensorimotor system integrates information from multiple sensory streams. An important stream is the force information that is sensed by two modalities in our body– kinesthetic and tactile. The tactile information is gathered from the mechanoreceptors that are located in the skin and provides information about skin deformation. The kinaesthetic information is gathered from the muscle spindles that provide us with information about the position of our body (proprioception), and from the Golgi tendon organs that provide us with force information. Using robotic technology and virtual reality can help us to understand better the relations between these two streams, their weight in our internal representation of our movement, and how we adapt to changes in the environment. We built a skin deformation device and program a controller that could be assembled on a haptic device for augmentation of tactile information in adaptation to force field experiments. Our device has a pantograph structure with two DoF and two servo-motors that move the end tactors. It has been shown that adding an artificial skin stretch can cause bias and improve performances in a path-following task. We will use our new tactile device to study the integration of tactile and kinesthetic information during force field adaptation. This device will help us to extend our understanding of how skin deformation is represented in the sensorimotor system by adding two directions of skin deformation. This understanding can be applied in design of future human-robot physical interaction devices and in treating somatosensory disorders.

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