Yon Visell, PhD - Principal Investigator

From the science of touch to new haptic technologies

Haptic perception-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 structural and functional specializations in the body?

In our lab, we study mechanisms underlying haptic perception and action, and the neuroscientific and biomechanical basis of touch. Our long-term goal is to uncover the biological (neural and mechanical) computations that enable haptic interaction, when movement-dependent sensory signals are concurrently available via multiple perceptual channels.

We conduct theoretical and behavioral studies of haptic perception to illuminate contributions of different mechanical cues and motor behaviors.  We aim to develop novel hypotheses about how real haptic objects are perceived, and how they can be simulated with new technologies.  


VR, sensors, and robotics

How can we use new technologies to enable people to interact with objects in the digital world as seamlessly as they do in the real world?

How can we endow robots with the abilities to touch, feel, and interact effectively in uncertain environments?  

We create novel haptic devices capable of delivering precise mechanical stimuli to the skin, inspired by new findings on touch perception. We use these devices to unravel contributions of different stimuli to the sense of touch.  

We also develop interfaces for the use of touch feedback in robotics, human-computer interaction, mobile computing, virtual reality, and wearable computing, and  new techniques for interacting via the sense of touch in specific domains, such as touch surface computing or biomedical simulation.


Mechanics of touch

What are the mechanical signals produced when an object is touched or grasped with the hand?

Which mechanical stimuli are responsible for touch sensations like shape, softness, or texture?

How can such mechanical signals be simulated? 

Our work addresses the theoretical and computational modeling of complex contact mechanical interactions underlying touch, like fracture, biomedical tissue cutting, and friction.

We are developing physical models  of mechanical interactions of complex objects, materials and contact conditions. We use these models to understand how people perceive the environment via touch, and to design new techniques for haptic rendering of virtual objects and environments