A robotic arm playing with a ball

Haptics Use Cases and Applications in VR: Tele-existence/Tele-robotics

This article was extracted from the Recommended Practices for Haptics in Enterprise VR published by the Haptics Industry Forum.

What should be considered while planning to include haptics in a tele-existence/tele-robotics solution?

Reduce risks. When dealing with dangerous scenarios like CBRNE or dangerous maintenance tasks, exposing a robot to such danger is ethically more responsible than exposing a human to it.

Skill teleportation. Using a robot as a personal avatar, a human may impart their expertise through the robot at a remote location or a location that is difficult to access through the human form without mechanical assistance.

Increase efficiency. Telerobotics allows humans to avoid dangerous, distant, and dirty environments. It also allows human expertise to be transmitted through the telerobot, potentially eliminating the need for travel while still providing a sense of first-person interaction and expertise through the robot.

What are the key values to adopt a tele-existence/tele-robotics solution?

There are several key values to including haptics in your tele-existence/tele-robotics solutions:

Increased realism. Haptic feedback from the telerobot to the human provides a greater sense of realism embodied in the robot, a greater sense of dexterity, and proprioceptive presence to the human through the robot. The familiarity of natural movement and tasks conducted through haptic feedback act as confirming sensations for working on the task and its completion.

Increased performance. Using telerobotics/telepresence, one person can be present in many geographically dispersed environments through the deployed robotic avatar. This person’s expertise and know-how are conveyed through the telerobot, enabling the robot to complete the task with the expert’s ability.

Provide safety and control. Eliminating first-person exposure to dangerous situations or environments, haptic feedback through robotic sensors provides real-time feedback and a natural human interface for task completion with high levels of confidence and familiarity with the conduct of the telerobotic avatar.

Why should you include haptics in your tele-existence/tele-robotics solution?

Here are three reasons why you should add haptic feedback to your tele-existence/tele-robotics solution:

Realism: Tele existence is well served by realistic haptics sensation to optimize the remote control of the robot. Haptics realism should be actively pursued, and it is a critical item for success.

Safety: Remotely controlling robots implies potential safety risks for the users. Therefore, the haptics implementation should put user safety first and avoid any haptic feedback above the user tolerance.

Integration: The integration in an external robotic system is challenging and requires a specialized approach.

Image Credit: Shadow Robot Compay

Overview of tele-existence/tele-robotics use case

Tele-existence is the ability to reproduce human capabilities in another physical avatar. Tele-existence is advantageous in dangerous situations/environments, sterile environments, and geographically distant locations. The advantages of tele-existence are the ability for real-time expertise, interactions, and oversight. This can vary from CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high yield Explosives) to maintenance and medical use cases. Tele-existence systems may consist of at least two of three technological components:

  1. The ability to reproduce visual and audio information; is usually referred to as telepresence or tele-existence.
  2. The ability to create mobility, which is referred to as locomotion.
  3. The ability to convey tactile transfer and physical interaction between the robot and the human. The human controls the robot’s actions, and the robot responds according to the human’s actions and conveys tactile sensation to the human.

Another example of a use case is transforming education and history research with haptics. The research aims to explore how haptic technologies combined with VR can better engage viewers in the museum and heritage sectors.

Discover History with Haptics while Preserving Artifacts

Customer Goals: Product/experience insights.

Haptic Technologies Used: SenseGlove DK1 and virtual reality headset.

Role of Haptics: Realism, immersion, user experience.

Outcome: “The haptics spark the potential to revive how we interact, communicate, and preserve ceramic artifacts long term. This innovative way of interaction reinvents the way we communicate history, aids interpretation, and increases visitor engagement,” according to Emma Fallows, a researcher at Staffordshire University. Early tests have also shown that VR with haptics may become a popular option for preserving ancient artifacts via a digitized archive. The project is a currently active four-year Ph.D. study.

Who is Interhaptics?

Interhaptics is a software company specialized in haptics. Interhaptics provides hand interactions and haptic feedback development and deployment tools for virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), mobile, augmented reality (AR), and console applications. Interhaptics’ mission is to enable the growth of a scalable haptics ecosystem. Interhaptics strives to deliver top-notch development tools for the VR/MR/AR, mobile, and console developer community, and the interoperability of haptics-enabled content across any haptics-enabled platform.

If you are interested in designing high-fidelity haptics or integrating haptic feedback to your virtual reality (VR) project, download Interhaptics Haptics for VR and MR. To collaborate with Interhaptics on your AR/VR/MR project, you can contact us here.