The UNISI team is happy to annouce that the FP7-ICT-601165 Collaborative Project “WEARable HAPtics for Humans and Robots” (WEARHAP) is just started!
The project aims at laying the scientific and technological foundations for wearable haptics, a novel concept that will redefine the way humans will cooperate with robots. These technologies will bring to our skin the revolution that the Sony Walkman brought to our ears, and that Google Glasses plans to bring to our eyes.
The glasses designed by Google (Fig. 1) are extremely wearable and will be used to improve interaction with virtual environments and digital contents in augmented reality scenarios.
Video calls, maps, and other kinds of visual information, which became portable with the advent of smartphones and tablets, will become wearable in the future imagined by Google. The same happened to the audio signals in the second half of the twentieth century with headphones or earphones introduced by Sony with the Walkman.
WEARHAP will bring this revolution to our skin.
Figure 1: WEARHAP will bring to our skin the revolution that headphones brought to our ears (left), and that Google Glasses plans to bring to our eyes (center).
Despite the fact that haptic interfaces are now widely used in laboratories and research centers, their use in everyday life remains underexploited. The main reason is that traditionally they have been physically grounded and only recently they have been designed to be portable. Project WEARHAP will change the way of using and interpreting haptics for interaction: from grounded and portable paradigms to more complex, integrated and wearable systems.
Figure 2: Grounded haptics (left), exoskeletons (center) and wearable haptics (right). In wearable haptics the exoskeleton is removed and the wearability is improved at the cost of losing most of the kinesthetic component of the interaction.
Imagine a world in which wearable haptic systems allow you to perceive, share, interact and cooperate with someone or something that is miles away from you. Think to the variety of new opportunities wearability will bring at our fingertips in cooperation, rescue robotics, health, social interaction, remote assistance and in much more intriguing scenarios we can now only envisage.
In order to highlight the benefits which characterize the WEARHAP technology, selected scenarios from the application fields of robotics, social media and health sciences will guide the WEARHAP investigations.
In particular, these wearable technologies will be employed for
– Haptic communication with cognitively impaired subjects: project WEARHAP will provide effective scientific tools for exploiting haptic stimulation to actively elicit patients with severe brain damage, in order to communicate with them and hopefully improve their level of consciousness.
– Tangible videogames: WEARHAP systems will enrich videogames with the possibility of touching directly the content with our hands and body, without any workspace restrictions, resulting in a more immersive gameplay.
Figure 3: The main representative scenarios. In robotics: human-robot interaction and cooperation. In health and social services: communication for social and health care and gaming for social and augmented interaction.
The Consortium is composed by:
University of Siena (coordinator), leaded by Prof. Prattichizzo;
University of Pisa, leaded by Prof. Bicchi and Prof. Scilingo;
University of Bielefeld, leaded by Prof. Ernst and Prof. Ritter;
Techical University Munich, leaded by Prof. Hirche;
Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, leaded by Prof. Frisoli;
Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas, leaded by Prof. Argyros;
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, leaded by Prof. Otaduy;
Italian Institute of Technology, leaded by Prof. Darwin;
Université Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris, leaded by Prof. Hayward;
Umea University, leaded by Prof. Edin.
The WEARHAP project will last for 4 years and will benefit of a 7.700.000€ fundings from the European Comission. The kick-off meeting is scheduled for the 29 – 30 of April in Siena, Italy.
The website, wearhap.eu, will be soon online.