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A new advancement in haptic robots happened when four organizations, Shadow Robot Company, SynTouch, HaptX, and ANA Holdings came together. These companies have built the “world’s first haptic robot hand” that transmits touch to the operator, the details of which they shared on Friday.

Credit: Shadow Robot Company

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Haptics is one of the growing technologies in the field of human-computer interaction that deals with sensory interaction with computers. It is basically the science of applying touch sensation and control for interaction with virtual or physical applications.[/box]

How haptic robot hand works?

First, the HaptX Gloves capture the motion data to control the movement of the anthropomorphic dexterous hand by Shadow Robot Company. The BioTac sensors built by SynTouch are embedded in each fingertip of the robotic hand to collect tactile data. This data is used to recreate haptic feedback by the HaptX Gloves and is transmitted to the user’s hand.

The system was first demonstrated in front of all the collaborating companies. In the demo,  an operator in California used a haptic glove to control a dexterous robotic hand in London, under the guidance of a team from ANA Holdings in Tokyo.

When the robot started typing on the computer keyboard, the embedded tactile sensors on the robot’s fingertips recorded the press of each key. The haptic data was shared with the human operator in California through the network in real-time. The words typed by the robot were “Hello, World!”. In the demo, the telerobot was also shown doing a bunch of other things like playing Jenga, building a pyramid of plastic cups, and moving chess pieces on a chess board.

Credit: Shadow Robot Company

Credit: Shadow Robot Company

In an email to us, explaining the applications and importance of this advancement, Kevin Kajitani, Co-Director of ANA AVATAR within ANA Holdings, said, “This achievement by Shadow Robot, SynTouch, and HaptX marks a significant milestone towards achieving the mission of Avatar X. This prototype paves the way for industry use, including medicine, construction, travel, and space exploration.

Rich Walker, Managing Director of Shadow Robot Company, said, “This teleoperation system lets humans and robots share their sense of touch across the globe – it’s a step ahead in what can be felt and done remotely. We can now deliver remote touch and dexterity for people to build on for applications like safeguarding people from hazardous tasks, or just doing a job without having to fly there! It’s not touch-typing yet, but we can feel what we touch when we’re typing!

Dr. Jeremy Fishel, Co-Founder of SynTouch, said, “We know from psychophysical studies that the sense of touch is essential when it comes to dexterity and manipulation. This is the first time anyone has ever demonstrated a telerobot with such high-fidelity haptics and control, which is very promising and would not have been possible without the great engineers and technologies from this collaboration.

Jake Rubin, Founder and CEO of HaptX, said, “Touch is a cornerstone of the next generation of human-machine interface technologies. We’re honored to be part of a joint engineering effort that is literally extending the reach of humankind.

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