Haptics Final Experiment

One of the areas for growth in technology is in haptic feedback. Only recently have we been able to provide feedback artificially through haptic motors. These motors can be attached to sensors, and they can represent certain events in the environment. 

Some practical applications with these motors could include a proximity sensor. They could be programmed to vibrate faster when the sensor is closer to an object. If the sensor is mounted to a wearable, a blind person could be alerted via vibrations when they come closer to an object. This type of application of haptics is already existent in the Sunu Band, a commercially available product. However, the cane is already a good object avoidance tool for blind people, so the application of a haptics motor along with a motion sensor has limited commercial value. 

I personally would continue searching for how haptics and sensors can be used for blind, or deaf-blind people. It may be that the National Federation of the Blind’s own blind driver challenge car uses these types of sensors and haptic feedback for the driver. Nearby object avoidance is taken care of by the cane, but maybe I want other types of object detection, or haptics to represent data.

It is worthwhile then to learn where in the body haptic feedback is perceived best.

For my haptics final experiment, I decided to apply two ERM haptics motors with velcro to the body. I attached one to the wrist, and one to the forehead. The motors are flat and small enough that they can be sandwiched between two strips of velcro.

Velcro head band

Wrist band

I connected each motor to a breadboard by way of longer wires. The board is powered by a 9-volt battery running through a power supply board that can reduce power to 5-volts. A 100 ohm. resistor runs from the power rail on the breadboard to a small button, and the button powers the motor when pressed. The button is also wired to the ground rail on the breadboard.

Long wires are soldered to the motor to create some distance between the velcro attachments and the breadboard.

9-volt battery and power supply chip powering a breadboard with two buttons

The video below shows the system working. I clap when the wrist motor vibrates, and nod when the one on the forehead vibrates.





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