The Future is Bionic…
I have always fascinated about the powers of the Bionic man. Bionic man is a very wide term whose pinnacle would be to create an artificial being. Today research in that area is progressing – an example of that is the stem cell. But talking about that would be science-fiction. So lets talk about something more real.
…so what about the present?
Have you seen science fiction movies like Avatar, G.I Joe or Iron Man? They wear a suit that
- enable them to lift extremely heavy objects
- run at great speeds, and even fly!
- among other things – Iron Man also had a power source in the suit that kept him alive but that doesn’t interest us! 😉
Do you think such things could really exist, today? Yes, it happened last year at IIT. I was amazed when I saw people wearing a mechanical exoskeleton and jumping over a entire car in a single leap! During Techfest 2009 a team of performers called “3Run” from UK displayed a stunning Parkour performance! Two of them were wearing exoskeletons (3Run doesn’t mention this on their website) which I believe looks just like the ones produced by PowerSkip, a German company.
Read More: A report on Artificial Exoskeletons [PDF]
TODO: Engineering of Powered Exoskeletons
Looking for Touch:
Haptics and BioMedicine – Discussions at IITM
I am looking for a Project in Haptics / BioMedical as my M.Tech Project (MTP). I love this field. It makes you feel useful when you contribute to the community. Not to mention there is a great potential in this field for entrepreneurship. To decide on a suitable project, I am here at IITM today, visiting Prof Manivanan.
I had a wonderful discussion with him today. Discussed a lot of projects from extremely challenging to not too risky. The most exciting ones are the most risky! Also BioMedicine will be a totally new field for me.
I need to evaluate whether IITB will accept these projects. Does it have enough control systems? Enough Research? Enough substance? Or may be too much! 😛
Lots of things to think about. Will take sometime before I can decide. See them more clearly before I make a decision. That’s what this vacation time was supposed to be for! 🙂
Just for fun, wrote the rest here …
- Installing Falcon Drivers and Haptik Library
- Configuring Haptik Library to use Falcon
- Running Example programs with Haptik Library
- September 2012: Newer versions of Haptik Library released (1.2RC). DLLs from previous versions (1.1RC) now deprecated. See this comment.
- October 2010: Incompatibility with Version 4.x driver.
- November 2009: First Release.
NOTE: This tutorial has been tested with Haptik Library 1.1RC in 2009. More recent version of the library (1.2, released Feb 2012) are available now. This tutorial should be used as a guideline and is neither tested nor guaranteed to work with the latest version.
Installing Falcon Drivers and Haptik Library
- Download the Haptik Library 1.1RC and Falcon Plugin from the Haptik Library website:
- Haptik Library is compatible with 3.1.4 version and above (Update: It doesn’t seem to work with Version 4.x) of Novint Falcon Driver. Download & Install it.
Configuring Haptik Library to use Falcon
- Once done with the installation of the above, try runing sample programs provided with Haptik Libary on Matlab.
C:\Program Files\Siena Robotics and Systems Lab\Haptik Library\Matlab
- You will Haptik Library throwing an error: Haptik.Config.txt unavailable.
- Copy Haptik.Falcon.dll to
C:\Program Files\Siena Robotics and Systems Lab\Haptik Library\RSLib\Bin
- Update the config file:
C:\Program Files\Siena Robotics and Systems Lab\Haptik Library\Matlab\Haptik.Config.txtChange the line:
HaptikLibrary.plugin4_0 = Haptik.Spectre.dll to
HaptikLibrary.plugin4_0 = Haptik.Falcon.dll
- Relocate(or copy) the config file the application working directory.
Application working directory is given by:
Running Example programs with Haptik Library
- Viewing Available Haptik Devices:
 ‘Falcon ’ ‘Falcon’ ‘Novint’
>>Success! Matlab and Falcon can now talk!
- Run the horizontal_plane.m and play with it. You should be able to “feel” a horizontal plane.
This completes the tutorial! You might want to explore horizontal_plane.m for better understanding of things. If you intend to use Matlab / Haptik for programming, I recommend make a vertical_plane.m to get started.
Hope this helps you get started!
I recently wrote an article for a tech newsletter.
The Story of Touch
Once upon a time, there lived a legendary computer wizard called Dumbledore, who found modern gadgets very boring! He wanted computers to behave and feel like the real world! Having a keen interest in applied research, he set out on a journey to explore how humans perceive the materialistic world.
Humans interact with today’s gadgets in many ways. We punch in keystrokes, move the mouse, touch and tilt the iPhone and if you are Stephen Hawking, even use brain waves to command the computer to perform a certain task! And how do these gadgets respond to you? Mostly, just with visual and auditory output.
“Is that the end of it?” Dumbledore wondered … “Is this all what modern technology can do?!” discontented he went on to take a deeper look …
Humans he found, start by a visual scan of an object, like to hear its sound, and touch it – to feel its shape, size, texture and weight to satisfy their curiosity of exploring new & interesting things.
Dumbledore having gathered this new knowledge wanted to share this information with others, so he posted his findings online. Naruto – a student at IIT, having read Dumbledore’s blog, soon realized what today’s technology was truly missing – the sense of touch! Naruto called it: “Haptics-no-jutsu!”
What is this Hap-ticks??
What is Haptics?
The science of sensing and manipulation through touch is called Haptics. The word originated from Greek root: Haptesthai, meaning “to touch”. Analysis of Haptics is subdivided into three sub-domains:
- Human Haptics – how we perceive touch as neuro-physiological signals
- Machine Haptics – design, implementation and control of a human-computer-interface devices to send and receive force & torque
- Computer Haptics – simulation (encoding & rendering) and communication of haptic signals in digital environments
Recent advances in virtual reality and robotics enable the human tactual system to be stimulated electro-mechanically through force feedback devices! Such devices are known as Haptic interfaces. We have a device here at the Haptics Lab of IITB, where we could feel a simulated rock, sand, magnet and even ice! Imagine playing video games with Haptics! …
Why Study Haptics?
Naruto was very intelligent but lazy! It was not until he heard Srinivasan Sensei’s words that he was actually motivated to do Haptics research:
“Given the ever-increasing quantities and types of information that surround us, there is a critical need to explore new ways to interact with information. Our haptic system – with its tactile, kinesthetic and motor capabilities together with the associated cognitive processes – present a uniquely bidirectional information channel to our brain and offers such a fantastic medium!” – said Prof Srinivasan M.A, Director, Touch Lab, MIT
Naruto joined Dumbledore to realize many interdisciplinary applications of Haptics:
- surgical simulators for medical training
- remote diagnosis for telemedicine
- hearing aids for the deaf and interfaces for the blind
- video games than let the user feel and manipulate virtual solids, fluids and avatars
- giving students a feel of physical phenomena at nano or macro scales
- High risk training
- virtual concert rooms in which the user can login remotely to play a musical instrument
- art exhibits and museums that allow touching and feel of expensive and rare objects without the risk of corrupting them
- imagine flying the first plane built by Wright brothers
Naruto and Dumbledore decided to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation, which they believed could still fascinate the world with its awesomeness:
- Imagine using a touch-screen versus a keypad. A keypad feels much better because you can touch and feel the keys and is also less error prone as compared to a touch-screen without any Haptic feedback.
- One of the greatest things about Haptics is that it enables a non-visual feedback – an ability that could be used to aid the disabled. During the Haptics workshop (Techfest 2009) we prepared a gadget that aided deaf to hear using principles like bone-conduction!
Researchers even today continue to discover considerable benefits of implementing Haptics in modern-day systems. I reckon something new, better and versatile is yet to unveil! To-be-continued …
with Tapu Dum
Many thanks to Disha and Jyothi for their invaluable feedback!