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This brief presents a quantitative study of the effects of virtual surface stiffness in a simulated haptic environment on the haptic perception of detail. Specifically, the haptic perception of detail is characterized by identification, detection, and discrimination of round and square cross section ridges. Test results indicate that performance, measured as a percent correct score in the perception experiments, improves in a nonlinear fashion as the maximum level of virtual surface stiffness in the simulation increases. Further, test subjects appeared to reach a limit in their perception capabilities at maximum stiffness levels of 300 to 400 N/m, while the hardware was capable of 1000 N/m of maximum virtual surface stiffness. These results indicate that haptic interface hardware may be able to convey sufficient perceptual information to the user with relatively low levels of virtual surface stiffness.
Date of Publication: June 2004