Sensory substitution and augmentation using 3-degree-of-freedom skin deformation feedback

Zhan Fan Quek, Samuel B. Schorr, Ilana Nisky, William R. Provancher, Allison M. Okamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


During tool-mediated interaction with everyday objects, we experience kinesthetic forces and tactile sensations in the form of vibration and skin deformation at the fingerpad. Fingerpad skin deformation is caused by forces applied tangentially and normally to the fingerpad skin, resulting in tangential and normal skin displacement. We designed a device to convey 3-degree-of-freedom (DoF) force information to the user via skin deformation, and conducted two experiments to determine the devices effectiveness for force-feedback substitution and augmentation. For sensory substitution, participants used 1-DoF and 3-DoF skin deformation feedback to locate a feature in a 3-DoF virtual environment. Participants showed improved precision and shorter completion time when using 3-DoF compared to 1-DoF skin deformation feedback. For sensory augmentation, participants traced a path in space from an initial to a target location, while under guidance from force and/or skin deformation feedback. When force feedback was augmented with skin deformation, participants reduced their path-following error over the cases when force or skin deformation feedback are used separately. We conclude that 3-DoF skin deformation feedback is effective in substituting or augmenting force feedback. Such substitution or augmentation could be used when force feedback is unattainable or attenuated due to device limitations or system instability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7027232
Pages (from-to)209-221
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Haptics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • haptics
  • sensory augmentation
  • skin deformation
  • tactile feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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