1:30 PM - EQ15.02.01
Textile-Based Wearable Haptic Devices
Barclay Jumet1,Jeffrey Berning1,Nicolas Escobar1,Mark Schara1,Zane Zook1,Marcia O'Malley1,Daniel Preston1
Wearable haptic devices use intuitive tactile signals to enable alternative pathways for communication in “noisy” environments and immersive virtual reality experiences. These wearable devices often employ rigid electromechanical components, including onboard motors that require gearboxes for appropriate torques in squeeze cues and rotating eccentric masses for vibration cues ; incorporation of these rigid components hinders the construction of unobtrusive, comfortable, and lightweight wearables.
Soft haptic devices overcome this limitation by leveraging intrinsic compliances to apply haptic cues while maintaining flexibility and light weight, with most approaches utilizing either (i) compliant pneumatic systems composed of inflatable bladders or (ii) flexible electronic systems. Focusing on the former, typical pneumatic systems are composed of molded elastomers or bonded thermoplastic sheets which create chambers that can apply kinesthetic or tactile feedback when inflated . However, these materials introduce challenges for seamless and discreet integration into everyday wearable devices, clothing, and other attire.
Here, we present a new approach for soft haptics based on textiles bonded with an adhesive thermoplastic. The adhesive thermoplastic allows tunable actuator geometries and strong bonds between textiles. Textiles are low-profile, ubiquitous, and most importantly, comfortable and conformal to the human body , and this approach enables easy and inconspicuous integration into clothing because textiles can be sewn into or bonded onto existing garments.
We selectively bond textiles to each other through heat and pressure to define internal bladders and pathways for flow of pressurized air, driving actuation of the haptic devices. The geometry of the customizable bladders facilitates squeeze, stretch, and vibration cues, while the channels route the pressurized air to the actuators through tailored pathways. The addition of a patterned intermediate layer between textiles permits the formation of these features by preventing adhesion in defined locations. Moreover, fluidic and systematic instabilities can be designed and exploited to provide simpler control  than existing pneumatic counterparts that rely on bulky electromechanical regulators for actuation .
Soft haptic devices based on textiles and fluidic actuation allow facile fabrication and operation, and the ease of integration into everyday garments and wide array of design possibilities highlight a promising strategy for integration in wearable devices. Our textile-based approach to wearable haptics can supplement the more traditional, yet often saturated, modes of communication (visual, aural, etc.) while delivering salient information to a user in an inconspicuous, lightweight, and comfortable manner.
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