Adding the Sense of Touch to Virtual Environments

Suvranu De, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, leads a team that is combining the sense of touch with 3D computer models of organs to create a new approach to training surgeons, a virtual simulator that allows surgeons to touch, feel, and manipulate computer-generated 3D tissues and organs. De and his collaborators are now turning that expertise in computer haptics (sense of touch) and virtual environments to a new project that could profoundly impact experimental arts presentations.

They are developing the foundations for a robust and reliable shared virtual environment in which interactive haptic feedback is added to existing visual and auditory feedback. The project will concentrate on developing methods to overcome current network limitations such as latency and packet loss and then study how humans use the ability to communicate touch over long distances when interacting with other humans or machines.

Suvranu De