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Tactile arrays are devices that can provide spatially distributed cutaneous signals delivering crucial information during virtual haptic exploration or remote manipulation procedures. Two of the key specifications of a tactile array are the tactor spacing and array size that are believed to directly affect the device performance. In most of the systems developed so far, these two parameters have been chosen by trial and error or by trying to match the tactor density to the spatial resolution in the human fingertip. The objective of this work is to study the effect of tactor spacing and array size on the tactile arrays performance by measuring human tactile discrimination ability. Psychophysical experiments were performed to obtain the differential threshold for discrimination of a ridge angle and the shape recognition performance while exploring edge-based patterns. The patterns were explored through different passive (nonactuated) tactile arrays of vertically moving pins and also directly with the finger. Results indicate that a tactile array of 1.8 mm tactor spacing and 1 cm2 array size transmits the pattern information with a good level of accuracy. This work shows that tactile devices with low complexity (small number of tactors) are still effective in conveying tactile cues. Moreover, this work provides performance measures that determinate the capabilities of tactile pin arrays to convey accurately tactile information.
Date of Publication: March-April 2011