Fingertip Digitizer: Applying Haptics and Biomechanics to Tactile Input Technology

A novel fingertip-mounted haptic sensing digitizer that captures physical phenomena at the fingertip during a user's tactile activities. The complex biomechanical characteristics of the finger can achieve delicate input actions in art, medicine, and industry.

Enhanced Life
Because tactile and haptic stimuli are shared by humans and computers, this system supports exploratory tasks such as palpation for examining glands or tumors. The system does not require touch screens. Any patterned finger motions or any contact force-acceleration responses are valid modalities for input.

Development of a fingertip-mounted digitizer. Investigation and development of biomechanical models of fingertip characteristics. Development of multi-modal mapping systems of tactile and haptic stimuli.

This new fingertip-mounted device uses miniature thin-film force sensors, a tri-axial accelerometer, and a motion tracker. A real-time, network-based, multi-rate data-acquisition system was developed using LabVIEW virtual instrumentation technology. Biomechanical models based on human-subject studies were applied to the sensing algorithm. A new 2D touch-based painting application (Touch Painter) was developed with a new portable, touch-based projection system (Touch Canvas). Also, a new 3D object-digitizing application (Tactile Tracer) was developed to determine object properties by dynamic tactile activities, such as rubbing, palpation, tapping, and nail-scratching.

Human finger activity represents tremendous potential in digital-interaction technologies. Because this free-hand touch technology does not require a screen, it will significantly change the conventional input paradigm for many manual tasks in art, medicine, and industrial operations. For example, this free-hand, direct finger-touch technology a promising alternative to existing stylus-based or probe-based interfaces, such as the computer mouse and medical diagnostic systems.

Young-Seok Kim
State University of New York at Buffalo
ykim5 (at)

Thenkurussi Kesavadas
State University of New York at Buffalo