Perception and action

What do we feel when we touch and manipulate objects in the world? How do mechanical signatures of contact elicit conscious percepts of touch? How is touch perception enabled through  specializations in the body?

We study mechanisms of active touch sensing, including neuroscientific and biomechanical bases of haptic interaction.

We conduct experimental and theoretical studies to illuminate contributions of mechanical cues and motor behavior to perception and action, shedding light on how objects are perceived via touch.  

Yon Visell, Principal Investigator

Haptics, Robotics, VR

How can we engineer new technologies that use the sense of touch? How can we endow robots with the abilities to touch, feel, and manipulate objects in their environments?  

We create novel haptic devices for simulating the feel of touched objects, and use these devices to explore multimodal aspects of touch perception.  

We engineer new technologies for touch sensing and feedback in robotics, virtual reality, and biomedical applications.


Mechanics of touch, real and virtual

What forces are produced and felt when an object is touched with the hand? What mechanical stimuli are responsible for touch sensations like shape, softness, or texture? How can we simulate the feel of virtual objects? 

We address these questions by theoretically and computationally modeling contact mechanical interactions ranging from palpation of soft tissues, to material fracture, and rough sliding friction. We use the results to inform models of perception and to design new techniques for haptic rendering of virtual objects and environments.