Perception of Surface Curvature from Proprioception using Virtual Touch


  • Chris Christou & Alan Wing

  • July, 2001

Touch is a primary source of information regarding shape. Touch allows us to determine an objects material properties and its shape. Close your eyes and try to identify the objects around you using your sense of touch. It's very easy! But how does touch (or haptic perception) work?

This study investigated how we determine shape, and specifically curvature, from proprioception. Proprioception is an awareness of the position of our body parts. If we focus on the hand (a major source of touch information) then proprioceptive information regarding shape can be derived from the changes in the relative positioning of the finger joints.

We used the Phantom Haptic Interface to create virtual surfaces with different surface friction in order to understand how these two important characteristics of touch work together in haptic shape perception.