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Local Surface Orientation Dominates Haptic Curvature Discrimination

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4 Author(s)

Prior studies have shown that local surface orientation is a dominant source of information for haptic curvature perception in static conditions. We show that this dominance holds for dynamic touch, just as was shown earlier for static touch. Using an apparatus specifically developed for this purpose, we tested this hypothesis by providing observers with two independently controlled sources of geometric information. The robotic-like apparatus could accurately control the position of a contact surface independently from its orientation in space, while allowing subjects to freely and actively explore virtual shapes in the lateral direction. In the first experiment, we measured discrimination thresholds for the two types of shape information and compared the discrimination of real shapes to that of virtual shapes. The results confirmed the dominance of local surface orientation. We propose a model that predicts cue dominance for different scales of exploration. In the second experiment, we investigated whether a virtual curved surface felt as curved as a real curved surface. We found that observers did not systematically judge either of the two kinds of stimuli to be more curved than the other. More importantly, we found that points of subjective curvedness were not influenced by the availability of height information.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Haptics  (Volume:2 ,  Issue: 2 )