A broadband tactile array on the fingertip

  • Summers I
  • Chanter C
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Abstract

A stimulator array is described which can deliver a wide range of displacement waveforms from each contactor, allowing vibratory stimuli to be targeted towards different populations of mechanoreceptors in the skin. The array has a working bandwidth of 20-400 Hz and 100 moving contactors covering an area of 1 cm2 on the fingertip. The array was validated with two experiments on the perception of moving vibratory targets within a uniform background vibration. In the first experiment, with target and background at the same frequency, equivalent discrimination of target movement was obtained at higher values of target/background amplitude ratio for 40-Hz stimuli than for 320-Hz stimuli. In the second experiment, discrimination of target movement within a different-frequency background (320-Hz target and 40-Hz background, or vice versa) was found to be much easier than within a same-frequency background. These results suggest that tactile spatial acuity is better at 320 Hz than 40 Hz and that it is possible to target different receptor populations in the skin by using these frequencies. However, there are problems with this interpretation: on the basis of characterization of touch receptors in previous studies, spatial acuity is expected to be worse at 320 Hz than at 40 Hz.

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Authors

  • Ian R. Summers

  • Craig M. Chanter

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