Manav Kataria's Blog

Posts tagged “Haptics

Powered Exoskeletons

Powered Exoskeletons

HAL5 - Cyberdrine

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

Applications In BioMedical Engineering

A System’s Perspective: Computer Science, Embedded and Control Systems

Control Systems and Theory:

  • Understanding and thus modeling of human physiology and pathology.
  • Leading towards applications like controlled medication like drug delivery.
  • Factors like rate and dosage could be controlled.

Computer Science and Embedded Systems:

Integration of computer science with embedded systems has lead to many applications within medicince and healthcare.

  • Machines like X Rays, CT Scan, MRI help diagnose a disease/condition rapidly.
  • While others like defibrilators, pacemakers, dialators and cathetors help keep a patient under check and improve the response time of a doctor.
  • Hapitics enabled Surgical Simulators are a boon for providing high risk Medical Operations and Training today.
  • Visualization Systems that enable 3D Reconstruction of human body from CT Scan, X-Rays, MRI, etc, powered by computer graphics and imaging technology has greatly enhanced understanding & analysis of medical students and doctors alike.
  • Applications like Telemedicine and Telesurgery rely on backbone of Internet and Communications Infrastructure.
  • I envision integration of mobile and healthcare devices in future thus enabling the common man to keep himself under check while on the move.

Manav Kataria

10th January 2010
IIT Bombay

Assignment for BM600: Introduction to BioMedical Engineering

Looking for Touch

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 …

Tutorial – Using Novint Falcon with Matlab

Important: Hello Everyone, unfortunately I neither have the time nor the Haptic devices to support / respond to “help” comments on this page any longer. But I am glad to see people helping each other out; so feel free to continue doing that via this page / forum / comments and make Haptics a better technology! All the best!

This tutorial will take you through the following:
  1. Installing Falcon Drivers and Haptik Library
  2. Configuring Haptik Library to use Falcon
  3. Running Example programs with Haptik Library
Tutorial Change Log:
  • 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

Haptik library allows you to use the Falcon with Matlab.
  1. Download the Haptik Library 1.1RC and Falcon Plugin from the Haptik Library website:
  2. 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.
    Novint’s website:
Haptik Library Homepage:

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.
To fix this you will need to install ‘Haptik.Falcon.dll’ plugin and update the ‘Haptik.config.txt’ for falcon to work with Haptik:
  1. Copy Haptik.Falcon.dll to
    C:\Program Files\Siena Robotics and Systems Lab\Haptik Library\RSLib\Bin
  2. 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
  3. Relocate(or copy) the config file the application working directory.
    Application working directory is given by:
    >> pwd
    ans =

Running Example programs with Haptik Library

Lets try Matlab examples again,
  1. Viewing Available Haptik Devices:
    >> haptikdevice_list
    ans =
    [0]    ‘Falcon [0]’    ‘Falcon’    ‘Novint’
    >>Success! Matlab and Falcon can now talk!
  2. Run the horizontal_plane.m and play with it. You should be able to “feel” a horizontal plane.

Concluding Remarks

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!


Haptics – The Story of Touch

I recently wrote an article for a tech newsletter.

The Story of Touch

The plot:
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 world.

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

Limitless Applications:

Naruto joined Dumbledore to realize many interdisciplinary applications of Haptics:

  • Medicine
    • surgical simulators for medical training
    • remote diagnosis for telemedicine
    • hearing aids for the deaf and interfaces for the blind
  • Entertainment
    • video games than let the user feel and manipulate virtual solids, fluids and avatars
  • Education
    • giving students a feel of physical phenomena at nano or macro scales
    • High risk training
  • Art
    • 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

The Awesomeness:

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 …

Manav Kataria
with Tapu Dum

Haptics – The Story of Touch [PDF]

Many thanks to Disha and Jyothi for their invaluable feedback!

Touch Feedback for Rehabilitation

Profs at IITB are planning to make a foot-operated touch screen for the disabled and I was wondering wheter we could give it some Haptic Feedback.

Say you have a Touch Screen – a planar rectangular screen partitioned as 9 (3×3 grid of) virtual buttons. No partitions exist physically. Can we send a tactile feedback to the user by vibrating one of these cells? Say by using 4 vibrators at the corners of the screen and varying their intensity? Contrast this with having 9 vibrators on each of the cells (not a very smart idea).

Can you think of any techniques of sending localized vibrations (haptic feedback)? Let me know.