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Haptic VR System Makes Anything Feel Squashy
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Haptic VR System Makes Anything Feel Squashy

Petanko Roller, developed by Yasuaki Kakehi's research group at Keio University, is a haptic virtual reality (VR) system that makes familiar objects feel squashy, like clay.

"This system provides the virtual experience in a three-stage process. First, it recognizes the shape of an object. It can recognize familiar objects and your face. Then, you run the roller device over the object shown on this display. That enables you to feel the object's convex and concave aspects. Here, a kettle is shown, and you can feel the form of the kettle through the roller device. Next, you apply force to the roller device. When you do so, the object deforms outwards. The kettle, which should be hard, feels as if it's spreading out, like clay. Finally, in this exhibit, the object that's been squashed flat is printed out, and given to the user as a souvenir."

Another possible application is moving stationary objects and replacing them with characters, for games that use haptic feedback.

"First of all, recognizing the shape of objects is done by recognizing concavity or convexity, using the Kinect here. Then, shape data and image data are extracted, and used to create tactile and visual sensations."

To create tactile sensations, the roller device contains five crank mechanisms.

"The sensation of convexity or concavity is created using a large motor. A small motor creates the feeling of resistance, like you get with clay, by applying friction to the tires. The sensations created are convexity or concavity, and friction. Through the roller device, the user feels as if there's an object present."

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