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Haptic interactions have become increasingly important as an interface to computer-generated simulations in virtual-reality (VR) applications. Many haptic devices are designed to be used as a force feedback mouse, where the user's hand is in contact with the haptic device while the object contact and force generation occur on a computer screen. In this paper, we present an approach using a “virtual probe” to interact with the environment and introduce a new method to generate impedance-based haptic forces based on the use of a virtual manipulator. The virtual probe is connected directly to the haptic device and is projected from the hand to the environment, much like a scalpel or sword. As the probe comes in contact with the environment, the haptic device generates appropriate forces on the hand. We extend this approach to include underactuated haptic devices, which do not have fully powered joints. We show that the approach compensates for missing joint actuation in the underactuated haptic devices. We show experimental results for a simple case of haptic interaction; we also present an experimental implementation in six degrees of freedom (DOF) using one of the most popular devices: the PHANTOM.
Date of Publication: Aug. 2011