SIGGRAPH 2008 > For Attendees > New Tech Demos > Maglev Haptics!

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Maglev Haptics! Butterfly Haptic's New User-Interface Technology

Theme: Future History
Hall H

Available haptic-interaction devices are small back-driven robot arms, which include mechanical elements that can limit fidelity due to friction, backlash, link bending, and motor cogging. This Carnegie Mellon University project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, uses magnetic levitation in a practical non-mechanical haptic device that avoids these problems.

Enhanced Life
Haptic interaction with 3D virtual environments mediated through magnetic levitation provides unprecedented fidelity. In addition to many research applications, this approach can be used in computer-aided design, medical and dental training, visualization and interaction with multi-dimensional data, microsurgery, control of remote robot manipulators and vehicles, arcade games, and character animation.

To create a haptic device that has much higher performance than existing devices in display of motion resolution, bandwidth, and range of stiffness. The system must also be affordable and comfortable to use.

In a radical departure from previous systems, this maglev approach uses friction-free Lorentz magnetic levitation. The user grasps a levitated handle that can be moved through six degrees of freedom to provide position and orientation input to the user's application. Concurrently, forces and torques are fed back to the handle from the application.

Maglev haptic technology will soon be moved out of the lab and made available to others through a spin-off company, Butterfly Haptics, LLC. Recently, an explosion of interest in haptics has identified many important benefits. Maglev haptics can play an an important role in these emerging applications.

Ralph Hollis
Peter Berkelman
Bert Unger
Dan O'Halloran
Matt Pucevich
Joey Liang
Mark Dzmura
Kei Usui
Carnegie Mellon University

Beth Hollis
Butterfly Haptics