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A psychophysical evaluation of haptic controllers: viscosity perception of soft environments

  • Hyoung Il Son (a1), Hoeryong Jung (a1), Doo Yong Lee (a2), Jang Ho Cho (a3) and Heinrich H. Bülthoff (a4) (a5)...

In this paper, human viscosity perception in haptic teleoperation systems is thoroughly analyzed. An accurate perception of viscoelastic environmental properties such as viscosity is a critical ability in several contexts, such as telesurgery, telerehabilitation, telemedicine, and soft-tissue interaction. We study and compare the ability to perceive viscosity from the standpoint of detection and discrimination using several relevant control methods for the teleoperator. The perception-based method, which was proposed by the authors to enhance the operator's kinesthetic perception, is compared with the conventional transparency-based control method for the teleoperation system. The fidelity-based method, which is a primary method among perception-centered control schemes in teleoperation, is also studied. We also examine the necessity and impact of the remote-site force information for each of the methods. The comparison is based on a series of psychophysical experiments measuring absolute threshold and just noticeable difference for all conditions. The results clearly show that the perception-based method enhances both detection and discrimination abilities compare with other control methods. The results further show that the fidelity-based method confers a better discrimination ability than the transparency-based method, although this is not true with respect to detection ability. In addition, we show that force information improves viscosity detection for all control methods, as predicted from previous theoretical analysis, but improves the discrimination threshold only for the perception-based method.

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