Working on Saturday and Sunday to prepare the WEARHAP Kickoff Meeting


The SIRSLab team is working to prepare the kickoff meeting of our project WEARHAP starting on Monday the 29th.

Full speed ahead.


WEARHAP Kickoff Meeting | FP7-ICT-601165 Collaborative Project.

WEARHAP: "Wearable Haptics for Humans and Robots"

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,, will be soon online.

Andrea Bocelli testing the Wearable Haptic Device developed at the University of Siena


In July 2012 during the Workshop on the theme: Innovative solution to help people to overcome disability limits – a challenge for International and Italian scientists organized in Pisa by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, the SIRSLab of the Department of Information Engineering of the University of Siena showed a demo of the Wearable Haptic Device (F. Chinello, M. Malvezzi, C. Pacchierotti, D. Prattichizzo. A three DoFs wearable tactile display for exploration and manipulation of virtual objects. Proc. IEEE Haptics Symposium, Pages 71-76, Vancouver, Canada, 2012.) to Andrea Bocelli. Interacting and talking with Andrea Bocelli has been a very inspiring experience. We got new ideas for our research on wearable haptics and for new applications to help impaired people with the target of designing a world without barriers.

A great thank to Andrea Bocelli Foundation for inviting us to show our demo.

Domenico Prattichizzo, Francesco Chinello and Leonardo Meli

SynGrasp – A MATLAB Toolbox for Grasp Analysis of Human and Robotic Hands

SynGrasp is a new MATLAB Toolbox developed by SIRSLab for the analysis of grasping, suitable both for robotic and human hands. Download it from SynGrasp Website!

Grasp analysis for underacuated hands with synergies

This  post summarizes the research at SIRSLab on grasping with underactuated compliant robotic hands in the recent years. These studies have been realized  SIRSLab also in collaboration with other Universities and research centres, e.g. University of Pisa and DLR.

The complexity of robotic hands is needed to adapt themselves to the many kinds of tasks, but the large number of motors needed to fully actuate the DoFs comes at the cost of size, complexity and weight of devices. A possible approach to solve this problem consists of reducing the number of actuators thus resulting more efficient, simpler and reliable than their fully actuated alternatives. Reducing control inputs seems to inspire also biological systems and in particular motor control of human hands, which share with robotic hands the large number of DoFs.

Reducing the number of control inputs, from fully actuated joints to few synergies, might reduce the dimension of the force and motion controllability subspaces thus compromising the dexterity of the grasp. In [PrMaBi11] and later in [GaBiPrMa11] we introduced the compliance in the quasi-static model at the contact points, at the joints and at the synergy actuation synergies. In particular, the introduction of compliance at the synergy level was referred to as soft synergies.

The solution of the quasi-static grasp problem when only a few actuators are present in the hand is possible if compliance is introduced in the model. In

We investigated the main structural properties of grasping with underactuated hands and in particular to what extent a hand with many DoFs can exploit postural synergies to control force and motion of the grasped object.

An underactuated robotic hand with compliance at the contact, joint and synergy level.


The analysis of grasp in terms of possible motions of the manipulated object and reachable internal forces has been investigated for robotic hands with underactuation in [PrMaBi11] using explicit manipulation of input and output variables and in [PrMaGaBi11] an using implicit analysis based on the study of the kernel of a system of equations. Both approaches explicit and implicit lead to the same results but the explicit one is more easy to read in terms of control actions.

In [GaBiPrMa11] the authors investigated the role of synergies in the optimal choice of contact forces in grasping.

In [MaPr13] we described some preliminary evaluations on grasping properties with underactuated hands and in particular we evaluated grasp stiffness in hands with passive joints.


In [MaPr11, PrMaAgWi12] the authors studied an interesting problem: when the robotic hand has not enough degrees of freedom and present compliance, it is possible that if you change the internal force the grasped object moves, due to the different deformation of the equivalent contact springs. These papers implicitly consider the underactuated hands as those hands with fewer DoFs with respect to those needed to control internal forces without moving the object. The results of this study have been applied to a real robotic hand, the experimental tests are described in [PrMaAgWi13].

Main publications on this topic:

[PrMaBi11] D. Prattichizzo, M. Malvezzi, A. Bicchi. On motion and force controllability of grasping hands with postural synergies. In Robotics: Science and Systems VI, pp. 49-56, The MIT Press, Zaragoza, Spain, June 2011. [pdf]

[PrMaGaBi11] D. Prattichizzo, M. Malvezzi, M. Gabiccini, A. Bicchi. On the Manipulability Ellipsoids of Underactuated Robotic Hands with Compliance. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Elsevier, 2012. [pdf]

[GaBiPrMa11] M. Gabiccini, A. Bicchi, D. Prattichizzo, M. Malvezzi. On the role of hand synergies in the optimal choice of grasping forces. Autonomous Robots, Springer, 31:235-252, 2011. [pdf]

[MaPr11] M. Malvezzi, D. Prattichizzo. Internal force control with no object motion in compliant robotic grasps. In Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, Pages 1008-1014, September 2011. [pdf]

[PrMaAgWi12] D. Prattichizzo, M. Malvezzi, M. Aggravi, T. Wimboeck. Object motion-decoupled internal force control for a compliant multifingered hand. In Proc. IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, 2012. [pdf]

[MaPr13] M. Malvezzi, D. Prattichizzo, Evaluation of Grasp Stiffness in Underactuated Compliant Hands,  Accepted at IEEE Int. Conf. on Robotics and Automation, 2013. [pdf-draft]

[PrMaAgWi13] D. Prattichizzo, M. Malvezzi, M. Aggravi, T. Wimböck Compliant robotic hands with a low number of actuators: controlling grasping forces without affecting the object motion, submitted to the International Journal of Robotics Research, 2013.

Robotic hand, object displacements and contact forces obtained in the numerical experiments presented in [PrMaAgWi12], first row: controlling only the contact forces, without compensating the object motion; second row: with the proposed object motion-decoupled control. The left figures show the initial

hand and object configuration, the right ones the final.

Current Research in Robotics at the SIRSLab in Siena (Dipartimento di Ingegneria dell'Informazione)

In these slides I outlined the current research activity of the SIRSLab in Robotics at the University of Siena.

Domenico Prattichizzo

Wearable Haptics / Cutaneous devices / Mechano-tactile devices / Skin devices / Cutaneous-Kinesthetic dissociation / Sensory subtraction / Needle insertion: the research so far in our SIRSLab



This short post summarizes the research on wearable haptics and sensory subtraction in the recent years. The wearable cutaneous devices we have developed are presented in [1]. We have used them in several applications but the most relevant work employing them, which aims at comparing the performance of kinesthetic and cutaneous feedback, is [2]. In [2,3] we analyzed the performance of cutaneous and kinesthetic feedback in a simple teleoperation task (needle insertion in 1 DoF) pointing out how cutaneous feedback can improve the overall safety of the system. After that, we have developed other types of cutaneous devices. For instance the one presented in [4] can be attached to the end-effector of commercial kinesthetic devices (such as the Omegas) in order to be able to easily switch between cutaneous + kinesthetic and cutaneous only.

To get wearability in haptics it is very important to deal with the skin. Devices we are developing are able to apply cutaneous forces without  kinesthetic force feedback. This is of course an issue but it is mandatory if we want to have wearable device. It is a requirement for the design of the devices. Which are the errors we get in using cutaneous only stimulation instead of kinesthetic feedback? To which extent we can avoid kinesthetic feedback ? An answer to this questions has been provided in [6] in cooperation with K. Minamizawa, who developed the gravity grabber which inspired our research on wearable haptics.


Publications/Videos/pdf also available on our website (

[1] F. Chinello, M. Malvezzi, C. Pacchierotti, D. Prattichizzo. A three DoFs wearable tactile display for exploration and manipulation of virtual objects. In Proc. IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS), Volume, Pages 71-76, Vancouver, Canada, 2012. [pdf]

[2] D. Prattichizzo, C. Pacchierotti, G. Rosati. Cutaneous force feedback as a sensory subtraction technique in haptics. IEEE Transactions on Haptics, PrePrint available on IEEEXplore, 2012. [pdf]

[3] C. Pacchierotti, F. Chinello, D. Prattichizzo. Cutaneous device for teleoperated needle insertion. In Proc. 4th IEEE RAS EMBS Int. Conf. on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), Pages 32-37, Rome, Italy, 2012. [pdf]

[4] C. Pacchierotti, F. Chinello, M. Malvezzi, L. Meli, D. Prattichizzo. Two finger grasping simulation with cutaneous and kinesthetic force feedback. In Haptics: Perception, Devices, Mobility, and Communication. Eurohaptics 2012, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Pages 373-382, Tampere, Finland, 2012. [video] [pdf]

[5]  K. Minamizawa, D. Prattichizzo, S. Tachi. Simplified Design of Haptic Display by Extending One-point Kinesthetic Feedback to Multipoint Tactile Feedback. In IEEE Haptic Symposium, Pages 257-260, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, 2010. [video] [pdf]