A wearable skin-stretching tactile interface for human-robot and human-human communication

Alice Haynes*, Melanie Simons, Tim Helps, Yuichi Nakamura, Jonathan Rossiter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
572 Downloads (Pure)


Currently, the majority of wearable robotic haptic feedback devices rely on vibrations for relaying sensory information to the user. While this can be very effective, vibration is a limited physical stimulation, appearing rarely in the natural world. In many cases of human-robot and human-human interactions, a more natural, affective and effective tactile interaction is needed to provide well-rounded and varied stimuli. In this work we present the Super-Cutaneous Wearable Electric Empathic Stimulator (SCWEES), a tactile device that gently stretches and squeezes the surface of the skin. Our hypothesis is that this device creates a pleasant, unobtrusive sensation that can be used to mediate social interactions or for delivering subtle alerts. We present the design of the SCWEES, a lightweight 3D printed semi-flexible structure that attaches to the skin at two points and actuates via two shape-memory alloy coil actuators. We evaluate the SCWEES through a range of human interaction experiments. These include evaluation of stimulation strength and pleasantness, compression and expansion, and ability to convey non-disruptive notifications. Quantitative and qualitative results show that the SCWEES generates a pleasant sensation, can convey useful information in human-machine interactions, and its affective stimulation is less disruptive than conventional vibratory tactile stimulation when the user is engaged in a task.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8632684
Pages (from-to)1641-1646
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
Early online date1 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

Structured keywords

  • Tactile Action Perception


  • Skin
  • Force
  • haptic interfaces
  • haptics and haptic interfaces
  • vibrations
  • affective tactile stimulation
  • robot sensing systems
  • social human-robot interaction
  • soft robot applications
  • actuators

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