The AirWand: Design and Characterization of a Large-Workspace Haptic Device

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General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception Laboratory
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Almost all commercially available haptic interfaces share a common pitfall, a small shoebox-sized workspace; these devices typically rely on rigid-link manipulator design concepts. In this paper we outline our design for a new kinesthetic haptic system that drastically increases the usable haptic workspace. We present a proof-of-concept prototype, along with our analysis of its capabilities. Our design uses optical tracking to sense the position of the device, and air jet actuation to generate forces. By combining these two technologies, we are able to detach our device from the ground, thus sidestepping many problems that have plagued traditional haptic devices including workspace size, friction, and inertia. We show that optical tracking and air jet actuation successfully enable kinesthetic haptic interaction with virtual environments. Given an appropriately large volume high-pressure air source, and a reasonably high speed tracking system, this design paradigm has many desirable qualities when compared to traditional haptic design schemes.

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Suggested Citation: Romano, Joseph M. and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. (2009). The AirWand: Design and Characterization of a Large-Workspace Haptic Device. 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. Kobe, Japan. May 12-17, 2009. ©2009 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE.
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