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  1. Despite the ubiquitous presence of tactile actuators (tactors) in mobile devices, there is a continuing need for more advanced tactors that can cover the entire frequency range of human tactile perception. Broadband tactors can increase information transmission and enrich sensory experience. The engineering challenges are multifold in that the ideal tactors should exhibit an effective bandwidth of at least 300 Hz, small form factor, robustness, power efficiency and low cost. For wearable applications, there are the additional challenges of ease of mounting and maintaining adequate skin contact during body movements. We propose an approach to interleave narrowband tactile stimuli to achieve broadband effects, taking advantage of the limited spatial resolution of the skin on the torso and limbs. Three psychophysical experiments were conducted to assess the validity of this approach. Participants performed pairwise discriminations of two broadband stimuli delivered using one or two tactors. The broadband stimuli consisted of one mid-frequency and one high-frequency component delivered through one tactor by mixing the two components, or through two tactors (one component per tactor). The first two experiments revealed extraneous cues such as localization and mutual masking of mid- and high-frequency components that were subsequently eliminated in the third experiment. Results from 12more »participants confirmed that performance on pairwise comparisons was below the discrimination threshold, confirming that broadband haptic effects can be achieved through narrowband tactors placed within the skin’s two-point limen.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 31, 2023
  2. Current wearable haptic display technology is limited by the lack of broadband tactors capable of delivering rich haptic effects across the entire perceptible frequency range. Audio speakers are often used in laboratory studies as broadband tactors, but it is difficult to attach them to skin and maintain contact during movement. Commercially-available narrowband tactors are small, low in cost and power efficient. We investigate the idea of interleaving narrowband tactile stimuli to achieve broadband effects. Twelve participants performed pairwise discrimination of two stimulus alternatives using two broadband tactors. One alternative was a broadband vibration composed of the sum of a mid- and a high-frequency vibration, delivered by a single tactor. The other alternative consisted of the mid-frequency component delivered by one tactor and the high-frequency by the other. The upper arm was chosen for stimulation because the tactors can be placed within the two-point limen of the skin. The sensitivity index results were significantly below 1.0, the criterion for discrimination threshold, thereby confirming that broadband haptic effects can be achieved by placing narrowband tactors with mid and high resonant frequencies within the skin’s spatial resolution. We provide guidelines and examples of applying our findings to the design of wearable haptic displays.