Abstract: Towards a more realistic feeling of interacting with virtual objects, researchers focused on glove-type haptic displays such as the Rutgers Master II and the CyberGrasp, which provide force sensations to all the fingers of the hand simultaneously. However, although they provide a compelling force feed- back, these displays are complex and very expensive -- the CyberGrasp, for instance, costs more than 60,000 US dollars! Thus, it becomes crucial to find a trade-off between a realistic feeling of touch and cost/portability of the system. In this regard, we found tactile technologies very promising. Tactile devices are haptic interfaces able to provide tactile force feedback only (they do not provide any kind of kinesthetic force). This property makes possible to dramatically simplify their form factor and provide the users with small, lightweight and wearable devices. However, even without kinesthetic feedback, tactile interfaces provide a compelling and realistic feeling of touching virtual objects and surfaces.
Acknowledgments: The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement n. 601165 of the project "WEARHAP - WEARable HAPtics for humans and robots". The authors wish to thank Fiamma Romagnoli for her help in realizing the video.