Questions for ‘A sense of touch could upgrade virtual reality, prosthetics and more’

stock art collage of a hand reaching through a phone

Researchers are trying to make it possible to sense textures on a computer screen and with artificial limbs.

Hand: Image Source/ Getty Images Plus; Sweaters: CerebroCreative/iStock/Getty Images Plus; Phone: Issarawat Tattong/Getty Images Plus; T. Tibbitts

To accompany “A sense of touch could upgrade virtual reality, prosthetics and more


Before Reading:

  1. Research the definition of the word “haptic.” Do you encounter any haptic devices in your daily life? What types of haptic feedback do they provide?

During Reading:

  1. Why are math experts and materials scientists interested in studying touch?
  2. What are Pacinian corpuscles? What do they do?
  3. What are Rayleigh waves? How are they related to our sense of touch?
  4. What factors influence how a touch screen feels to our fingertips?
  5. How could haptic devices improve virtual visits to the doctor?
  6. John Rogers’ team created a patch to convey touch sensations to the wearer. How does that patch work?
  7. How could adding touch sensations to prostheses improve those devices for the people who wear them?
  8. Jeremy Brown’s group tested two ways to give users feedback on the force exerted by their electronic limbs. What were they?
  9. Bionic hands built by a team in Sweden had a problem giving touch feedback to users. What was that problem? What may have caused it?

After Reading:

  1. If you could add haptic feedback to any device, what device would you pick, and what kind of haptic feedback would you add? How could that haptic feedback improve the user’s experience of the device?
  2. What could be some potential downsides to adding haptic feedback to new or existing technologies?