The RE Touch Lab is directed by Prof. Yon Visell, is part of the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Media Arts and Technology and Mechanical Engineering at UCSB, and is based in the California NanoSystems Institute.

We are investigating new engineering principles and developing tools that will allow us realize robotic and human-machine systems that reflect the astounding capabilities of biological organisms.  A central focus of this work is to develop theoretical and empirical knowledge needed to guide the design of electronic technologies that can efficiently and noninvasively interface with the sensorimotor capacities of the human body, especially with the sense of touch. A further aim is to create mechanically resilient, soft robotic systems that can operate in physical regimes, length, and time scales that have been heretofore impossible.  We seek to apply technologies developed in these areas in order to address challenges in healthcare and medicine, such as early detection of type II diabetes or sensorimotor rehabilitation.  Our group draws on a mix of expertise in electrical and computer engineering, signal processing, neuroscience, art, design, and robotics.  

In short, we create novel haptic devices and systems for simulating the feel of touched objects, and use these devices to creatively explore multimodal aspects of touch perception.  We engineer new technologies for tactile sensing and feedback in robotics, virtual reality, and biomedical applications, and theoretically and empirically investigate the mechanical and behavioral bases of perception and action.  

UCSB Engineering is renowned for its research excellence.  Engineering faculty members include three Nobel Laureates, 29 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 7 fellows of the National Academy of Inventors, Academy Award winners, Guggenheim Fellows, Prix Ars Electronica winners, numerous IEEE Fellows, several Google Faculty Research Award Winners, among many other accolades.  UCSB is ranked the #1 public university in the world for engineering research citation impact (Leiden, 2015, 2016). All of our graduate research programs were ranked in the top 5 for their disciplines (NRC, 2010). Our Materials graduate program is ranked #1 in the nation among public universities (US News, 2016, and NRC), and our Chemical Engineering program is consistently ranked in the top 5. 


UCSB Campus at the edge of the Pacific Ocean

California NanoSystems Institute, home of the RE Touch Lab