The goal of our research is to reveal the nature of touch perception and action, and to advance technologies for haptics, robotics, and interaction. The lab is directed by Prof. Yon Visell, 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 Electrical and Computer Engineering and with the Dynamic Systems, Control, and Robotics in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Our lab is also affiliated with the UCSB Center for Polymers and Organic Solids and the UCSB Robotics Group.

Selected Publications (Full list here)

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

T. N. Do, H. Phan, T.-Q. Nguyen, and Y. Visell,  Miniature Soft Electromagnetic Actuators for Robotic Applications.  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 Trans. on Biomed. Eng., 65 (3), 2018.  

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

Y. Shao, Y. Visell, Learning Constituent Parts of Touch Stimuli from Whole Hand Vibrations. Proc. IEEE Haptics Symposium, 2016. Best Paper Award Runner Up.

In our research, we investigate engineering principles for haptic and robotic systems inspired by the capabilities of biological systems.  Through theory and experiments, we aim to enable the design of technologies for touch, movement, and interaction, and to create unique, mechanically resilient soft robotic systems.  We are interested in myriad challenges and applications, ranging from sensorimotor rehabilitation, to space exploration, and artistic creation.  Our group draws on expertise in engineering, neuroscience, art and design.  

The lab has received generous support through multiple grants from the National Science Foundation, and through support and collaborations with industry. We enjoy collaboration and encourage interested parties to contact Prof. Visell.

We hold lab meetings about every week.  Interested in working with us? Join us at 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.