Yu Sun awarded $173,338 NSF Grant

August 16, 2018

On July 30th, 2018, Yu Sun, in collaboration with Stanford University, was awarded a grant of $173,338 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of a project entitled "CHS: Small: Collaborative Research: Wearable Fingertip Haptic Devices for Virtual and Augmented Reality: Design, Control, and Predictive Tracking."

In the real world, people rely heavily on haptic (force and tactile) feedback to manipulate and explore objects. However, in virtual and augmented reality environments, haptic sensations must be artificially generated. Advances in both sensing and feedback are needed to create more realistic virtual scenarios for human interaction, education, and training. This research will implement wearable fingertip haptic feedback systems that enhance human perception and task performance in virtual and augmented reality, and will provide the field of computer-mediated haptics with important new design and rendering insights for a promising form of wearable haptic device. Successful development of fingertip haptic devices and improved tracking methods will lower the cost of integrating haptic technology into virtual reality, and yield more realistic and compelling virtual experiences. Effective haptic feedback systems for virtual reality utilizing the developed technologies will have broad impact by improving human health and well-being through a myriad of applications such as training for critical tasks like surgery and defusing of explosive ordnance, tactile communication to enable design and e-commerce, and immersion in virtual worlds for enhanced education and training. Project outcomes will be disseminated through demonstrations of educational applications, expansion of an online course on haptics, and publicly available software and data. Outreach programs, public lab tours, and mentoring of female and minority graduate students, undergraduates, and high school students will broaden participation of underrepresented groups in engineering.

This project has three main technical components. First, instrumented objects will be developed that measure force interactions and integrate that data with external measurements of finger pose. Second, new wearable haptic devices will be developed that use a combination of local kinesthetic feedback and skin deformation to provide realistic haptic feedback with minimal encumbrance. Modular haptic device designs will facilitate rapid testing of various design choices. Then the basic design will be optimized in terms of control strategy, degrees of freedom, skin contact conditions, and finger grounding to best match the real-world grasping and manipulation data collected earlier. Third, predictive tracking algorithms will be developed for grasping based on characteristic behaviors observed in real-world grasping and manipulation data. All of the haptic devices and tracking methods will be evaluated both in virtual and in augmented reality environments.

Yu Sun is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida. He was a Postdoctoral Associate at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL), Cambridge, MA from Dec. 2007 to May 2008 and a Postdoctoral Associate in the School of Computing at the University of Utah from May 2008 to May 2009.