We explore haptics, robotics, and interactive technologies. Our work is inspired by capabilities of humans and other animals. We design haptic devices, create soft or wearable robots, investigate new material technologies, advance applications in VR and health, and explore the human mind.  

The lab is directed by Prof. Yon Visell. Visell is active in transdisciplinary research intersecting haptics, soft robotics, signals and acoustics. He is General Co-Chair for IEEE Haptics Symposium 2020, the longest running haptics conference. He has held positions at UCSB, and a host of other science, art, and engineering institutions and companies in North America and Europe, including as DSP developer at Ableton. More about Visell in his bio

Our lab includes an inspiring group of engineers, artists, and scientists. It is part of the Media Arts and Technology Program, Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at UCSB. We are based in the California NanoSystems Institute, affiliated with the Communication and Signal Processing group in the Department of ECE and with the Dynamic Systems, Control, and Robotics in the Department of ME. The lab is affiliated with the Center for Polymers and Organic Solids, the UCSB Research Center for Virtual Environments and Behavior, and with the UCSB Robotics Group. The lab has received two best paper awards and a half dozen best paper nominations at IEEE Haptics Symposium, the longest-running conference in the field.

News! News!

06.2019 Visell will be giving a seminar on haptics and robotics at Sorbonne University, Institute for Intelligent Systems and Robotics on 21 June

06.2019 Visell will be visiting the University of Pisa where he will deliver an invited talk during the annual Robotics Research Jam at Centro E. Piaggio June 18-19. His talk is entitled: Haptics and Robotics: Inspiration from Mechanics at Multiple Scales.

05.2019 Our new work on exploiting wave physics for haptic feedback is nominated for a best paper award at IEEE World Haptics 2019. Congrats to student authors Bharat Dandu and Yitian Shao!

05.2019 Visell visited and gave a seminar at the Center for Adaptive Systems of Brain-Body Interactions at George Mason University near Washington D.C.

04.2019 Visell represented UCSB on Capitol Hill in DC for meetings at several congressional offices, talking science (and haptics) as part of the CNSF Annual Event.

04.2019 RE Touch Lab was fortunate to host Visiting Artists-in-Residence LoVid in collaboration with the UCSB Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration

04.2019 The lab features in an article, “Are we losing touch with our world?”, in the latest issue of Current Biology (Cell Press).

04.2019 We received funding from the 2019 CNSI Technology Seed Grant competition to advance our work on soft robotic wearables.

03.2019 Three papers from the lab were accepted to IEEE World Haptics Conference 2019 in Tokyo, where they will be presented by PhD students Greg Reardon, Bharat Dandu, and Anzu Kawazoe

02.2019 Check out our new article (linked below) on emerging materials for haptics

Selected Recent Publications (see Full list or Google Scholar)

M. Zhu, T. N. Do, E. W. Hawkes, Y. Visell, Fluidic Fabric Muscle Sheets for Wearable and Soft Robotics.
arxiv.org:1903.08253 (cs.RO), Preprint, 2019.

S. Biswas, Y. Visell, Emerging Materials Technologies for Haptics [PDF].
Advanced Materials Technologies, To Appear, 2019.  

B. Dandu, Y. Shao, A. Stanley, Y. Visell, Spatiotemporal Haptic Effects from a Single Actuator via Spectral Control of Cutaneous Wave Propagation. Proc. IEEE World Haptics Conference, To Appear, 2019. Best Paper Award Nomination🏅

G. Reardon, Y. Shao, B. Dandu, W. Frier, B. Long, O. Georgiou, Y. Visell, Cutaneous Wave Propagation Shapes Tactile Motion: Evidence from Air-Coupled Ultrasound. Proc. IEEE World Haptics Conference, To Appear, 2019.

A. Kawazoe, M. Di Luca, Y. Visell, Tactile Echoes: A Wearable System for Tactile Augmentation of Objects.
Proc. IEEE World Haptics Conference, To Appear, 2019.

T. Hachisu, Y. Shao, K. Suzuki, Y. Visell, Empirical Study on Transfer Functions from Wrists to Hands.
IEEE World Haptics Conference, Work-in-Progress, To Appear, 2019.

S. Patwardhan, A. Kawazoe, D. Kerr, M. Nakatani, Y. Visell, Dynamics and Perception in the Thermal Grill Illusion [PDF].
IEEE Transactions on Haptics, To Appear, 2019.

B. Dandu, I. Kuling, Y. Visell, Proprioceptive Localization of the Fingers: Coarse, Biased, and Context-Sensitive.
IEEE Transactions on Haptics, To Appear, 2019.

T. N. Do, H. Phan, T.-Q. Nguyen, and Y. Visell,  Miniature Soft Electromagnetic Actuators for Robotic Applications [PDF+SI].
Advanced Functional Materials, 2018. Cover article. 

B. Khojasteh, M. Janko, Y. Visell, Complexity, rate, and scale in sliding friction dynamics between a finger and textured surface.  
Nature Scientific Reports 8 (13710), 2018. 

M. Janko, M. Wiertlewski, Y. Visell, Contact geometry and mechanics predict friction forces during tactile surface exploration
Nature Scientific Reports, 8 (4868), 2018.

B. Li, Y. Shi, A. K. Fontecchio, Y. Visell, Mechanical Imaging of Soft Tissues with a Highly Compliant Tactile Sensing Array [PDF].  
IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 65 (3), 2018.  

H. Wolfe, M. Peljhan, Y. Visell, Singing Robots: How Embodiment Affects Emotional Responses to Non-linguistic Utterances [PDF]
IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing, To Appear, 2018.

T. N. Do, Y. Visell, Stretchable, Twisted Conductive Microtubules for Wearable Computing, Robotics, Electronics, and Healthcare [PDF].
Nature Scientific Reports 7 (1753), 2017.

Y. Shao, V. Hayward, Y. Visell, Spatial Patterns of Cutaneous Vibration During Whole-Hand Haptic Interactions [PDF+SI]
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113 (15), 2016.

B. Li, A. K. Fontecchio, Y. Visell, Mutual capacitance of liquid conductors in deformable tactile sensing arrays [PDF]
Applied Physics Letters 108, 2016.

The lab has been generously supported through grants from the National Science Foundation, tech, VR and healthcare industries. We enjoy collaboration and encourage interested parties to contact Prof. Visell. (If he doesn’t reply immediately try emailing him again!)

We hold lab meetings about every week.  Interested in working with us? Stop by a lab meeting or read some of our papers and contact us. Engineers, scientists, artists, and designers are all welcome. 

UCSB is an outstanding place to work, and College of Engineering is renowned for its research excellence.  Engineering faculty members include three Nobel Laureates, 37 members of the National Academies of Engineering or Invention, numerous IEEE Fellows and other awards. UCSB was ranked the #1 public university in the world for engineering research citation impact (Leiden, 2015, 2016), and ranked #9 in the world for producing Nobel laureates (Times Higher Education, 2017).  Our Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering graduate programs ranked in the top 5 in the most recent US National Research Council ratings, and our Materials and Chemical Engineering graduate programs consistently rank among the top 5 in the US (US News and NRC).


California NanoSystems Institute, home of the RE Touch Lab

UCSB Campus at the edge of the Pacific Ocean

Santa Barbara is a hub for high technology and innovative startups, with one of the highest levels of venture capital investment per capita in the United States.  A very incomplete sampling of companies in and near Santa Barbara: Sonos, FLIR, SpaceX, TrackR, Cree, Biopac, Medtronic, InTouch Health (telemedicine / robotics), Productive Robotics, Raytheon, AppFolio, Moog, LogMeIn, Yardi, Zoom, Toyon, L3, Curvature, Eucalyptus (cloud computing), Inogen, bioIQ, Advanced Scientific Concepts (Lidar), Milo, NuSil, Spectron Microsystems, Channel Technologies Group / Piezo Kinetics, Crystalline Mirror Solutions, Freedom Photonics, Owl Biomedical, WorldViz (VR), D2 Technologies, SORAA (solid state lighting / lasers), Apeel Sciences, and many, many others.