Sensory substitution using tactile pin arrays: Human factors, technology and applications

Wall, S. A. and Brewster, S. (2006) Sensory substitution using tactile pin arrays: Human factors, technology and applications. Signal Processing, 86(12), pp. 3674-3695. (doi:10.1016/j.sigpro.2006.02.048)

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Tactile arrays use a matrix of individually controllable elements to present spatial and temporal patterns of cutaneous information. Early devices of this type were in the field of sensory substitution to replace vision or hearing for users with a sensory impairment. Many advances have been made due to the appropriation of tactile displays for telerobotics and virtual reality, to represent physical contact with a remote or simulated environment. However, many of these have been limited to engineering prototypes. The recent commercial availability of affordable, portable tactile pin arrays has provided renewed impetus to apply the technology to sensory substitution applications. Lack of access to digitally stored data can prove a significant barrier to blind people seeking careers in numerate disciplines. Tactile displays could potentially provide a discrete and portable means of accessing graphical information in an intuitive non-visual manner. Results are presented from experiments on tactual perception related to understanding graphs and simple visualisations with a commercially available tactile array device. It was found that subjects could discriminate positive or negative line gradient to within ±4.7° of the horizontal, compared to ±3.25° for results with a force feedback mouse and ±2.42° with a raised paper representation.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brewster, Professor Stephen
Authors: Wall, S. A., and Brewster, S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Journal Name:Signal Processing
Published Online:08 June 2006

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
353141An investigation of multimodal interaction with tactile displaysStephen BrewsterEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)GR/S53244/01Computing Science
353151An investigation of the use of tactile displays for visualisation for blind peopleStephen BrewsterEngineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)Gr/S53251/01Computing Science