Road to hamburg: WEART at EuroHaptics 2022
In May 2022, WEART participated in the Eurohaptics conference held in Hamburg. EuroHaptics 2022 was the first in-person event for the haptics community after two years of distant conferences and meetings.
The conference and its supplementary exhibition are part of a series of conferences organized by the EuroHaptics Society. The conference provides researchers from universities and industries an opportunity to present novelty and establish contacts with other haptics researchers from around the world.
For WEART, as a wearable-tech startup, it was the first time to have a chance to participate as an exhibitor. TouchDIVER, a wearable haptic interface designed by WEART, was released in October 2021; however, we found the opportunity to present it to the haptics community and robotics experts this year. We stayed in Hamburg for three days and During the EuroHaptics, we performed about a hundred demos and got precious feedback and exciting suggestions about additional hardware and software features.
From the first hours of the event, it was clear to everyone that this was a new atmosphere with renewed energy and enthusiasm in meeting colleagues and being able to experience innovations and try out them. For example, we tried a device developed by a research center in collaboration with an artist enabling the remote caress of a user’s arm, touched by a robotic hand controlled by a second user using a grounded haptic interface. Also, we experienced a brand-new technology by TDK, a stylus designed to be used with graphics tablets or devices that use touch screen input that generates the vibration in real-time, simulating the roughness of a material shown on display as a picture.
The feedback we enjoyed from researchers and our colleagues from other companies was related to their appreciation of a level of wearability, including magnetic solutions that let users wear it in about five seconds. Moreover, the ability of the device to stimulate the user’s skin with three different tactile sensations (forces, vibrations, and thermal cues) was unexpected by most of the audience.
Receiving this feedback and suggestions from the haptics community was priceless to us. It also enhanced us by allowing us to pioneer ideas from the front row tribe in the haptics technology sector. Indeed, by experts, thermal feedback is perceived as a superior technology, given the speed and effectiveness of the rendering and texture feeling.
Although, we established many contacts with research centers exhibiting or presenting papers in EuroHaptics, and exciting applications that will be developed soon by them using TouchDIVER. Also, we experienced different research groups were interested in TouchDIVER, particularly for teleoperation applications as well as for perception studies; all these works will be essential to validate the device in related use-cases and help to make the research community aware of the performance and the new possibility to explore and evaluate tactile sensations thanks to our interface.
Yet, thanks to our haptic technology, we have seen a lot of interest in what concerns XR applications and teleoperation scenarios where the operator can feel the environment in which a robot operates. Also, we saw people who believe in this scenario that haptic devices will soon be effectively applied and the transfer of tactile sensations between remote users would not be an image anymore.
To sum up, this event was a great opportunity for WEART to see the potential of the product we created and to receive a lot of positive feedback from haptics professionals and influential business community members. Additionally, we learned how haptic feedback would incorporate into the upcoming iteration of popular input devices designed to make digital interactions seem more realistic.
Although the road we recently began may appear long, we believe we are on the right track and headed in the right direction.