Skip to Main Content
Tactile feedback could replace or augment visual and auditory communication in a range of important applications. This paper advances the field of tactile communication by presenting performance data on a variety of tactors and a finger restraint that is suitable for use in portable devices. Tactors, the contact elements between the device and the skin, and finger restraints were evaluated using a tangential skin displacement direction identification task. We tested tactors of three sizes and two different textures. Rough textured tactors improved communication accuracy compared to smooth tactors, but tactor size did not have a statistically significant effect. Aperture-based restraints of three sizes were evaluated on both the index finger and the thumb. The aperture-based restraint was effective when used on both the index finger and the thumb, with performances on par with our previously tested thimble-based restraint. Participants performed better with larger apertures than with smaller apertures, but there was no interaction between aperture size and finger size, meaning that the same aperture could be used with a range of finger sizes. Subjects' perceptual acuity varied with stimulus direction. We discuss the effects of contact force, finger size, and differences in perceptual acuity between the index finger and thumb.
Date of Publication: July-Aug. 2011