Rather than pour over calculations, Palan and his collaborators gun their way through multiple levels of the video game Half Life 2. Palan created the vest as a haptic feedback device in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science. Each blast from the enemy is registered as an impact or vibration through the vest. It takes 12 small motors in the vest, controlled by the team's custom engineering, to add the fourth dimension of feeling to the game.
When applied to teleoperation, haptic interfaces allow engineers to control the motion of a robot manipulator in an unreachable environment, such as the depths of the sea or the operative site in minimally invasive robot-assisted surgery. Playing in Half Life 2's fictional dystopia is an enjoyable way to highlight the fields importance in creating computational models of physical environments to facilitate, for example, surgical training, or in more general human-computer interactions for education or entertainment.