Design and Perception of Wearable Multi-Contact Haptic Devices for Social Communication

Date: 4/14/2022

Speaker: Cara Nunez

Head Shot of Cara Nunez
Cara Nunez

Location: 122 Gates Hall and Zoom

Time: 2:40 p.m.-3:30 p.m.


During social interactions, people use auditory, visual, and haptic (touch) cues to convey their thoughts, emotions, and intentions. Current technology allows humans to convey high-quality visual and auditory information but has limited ability to convey haptic expressions remotely. However, as people interact more through digital means rather than in person, it becomes important to have a way to be able to effectively communicate emotions through digital means as well. As online communication becomes more prevalent, systems that convey haptic signals could allow for improved distant socializing and empathetic remote human-human interaction.

Due to hardware constraints and limitations in our knowledge regarding human haptic perception, it is difficult to create haptic devices that completely capture the complexity of human touch. Wearable haptic devices allow users to receive haptic feedback without being tethered to a set location and while performing other tasks, but have stricter hardware constraints regarding size, weight, comfort, and power consumption. In this talk, I will present how I address these challenges through a cyclic process of (1) developing novel designs, models, and control strategies for wearable haptic devices, (2) evaluating human haptic perception using these devices, and (3) using prior results and methods to further advance design methodologies and understanding of human haptic perception.

Bio: Cara M. Nunez is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Biorobotics Laboratory, Microrobotics Laboratory, and Move Lab at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also a Faculty Fellow in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University and will begin as an Assistant Professor in July 2023. She received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University working in the Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine Lab in 2021 and 2018, respectively. She was a visiting researcher in the Haptic Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in 2019-2020. She received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a B.A. in Spanish as a part of the International Engineering Program from the University of Rhode Island in 2016. She was a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Graduate Research Fellowship, the Stanford Centennial Teaching Assistant Award, and the Stanford Community Impact Award and served as the Student Activities Committee Chair for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society from 2020-2022. Her research interests include haptics and robotics, with a specific focus on haptic perception, cutaneous force feedback techniques, and wearable devices, for medical applications, human-robot interaction, virtual reality, and STEM education.