Human-X Haptic Communication

Human-X haptic communication involves interaction, collaboration, and negotiation, where X could be another human being, computer, or a machine. While some aspects of human-machine communication have been studied by robotics researchers in the past, there are still several open and interesting research problems in this area from the haptics point of view, and we can certainly learn a lot from the natural communication that takes place between humans to add more intelligence to machines.

Haptic Version of the “Turing Test”

Our objective is to identify the necessary components of haptics that are required to make a human participant believe that they interact with another human being. To achieve this goal, we will first need to identify the important components of haptic communication that takes place between human beings in SVEs. Specifically, the proposed research provides a necessary foundation for the incorporation of “personal” touch and force feedback devices into networked VR systems and the Internet by investigating the haptic interactions that take place between humans in SVEs. Ultimately a goal could be to create a haptic avatar which behaves in such a way that it cannot be distinguished from a human participant.

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Human-Human Haptic Collaboration in Shared Virtual Environments

We have developed a multimodal shared virtual environment and performed a set of experiments with human subjects to study the role of haptic feedback in collaborative tasks and whether haptic communication through force feedback can facilitate a sense of being and collaborating with a remote partner. The study concerns a scenario where two participants at remote sites must cooperate to perform a joint task in an SVE. The goals of the study are (1) to assess the impact of force feedback on task performance, (2) to better understand the role of haptic communication in human-human interactions, (3) to study the impact of touch on the subjective sense of collaborating with a human as reported by the participants based on what they could see and feel, and (4) to investigate if gender, personality, or emotional experiences of users can affect haptic communication in SVEs. Our results suggest that haptic feedback significantly improves the task performance and contributes to the feeling of “sense of togetherness” in Es. In addition, the results show that the experience of visual feedback only at first, and then subsequently visual plus haptic feedback, elicits a better performance than presentation of visual plus h aptic feedback first followed by visual feedback only.

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Intention Recognition for Dynamic Role Exchange in Haptic Collaboration

In human-computer collaboration involving haptics, a key issue that remains to be solved is to establish an intuitive communication between the partners. Even though the  computers are widely used to aid human operators in teleoperation, guidance and training, since they lack the adaptability, versatility, and awareness of a human, their ability to improve performance in dynamic tasks is limited. We suggest that the communication between a human and a computer can be improved if it involves a decision making process in which the computer is programmed to infer the intentions of the human operator and dynamically grant control to one party to resolve conflicts. In this paper, we investigate the utility of such a dynamic role exchange mechanism where partners negotiate through the haptic channel to trade their control levels on a collaborative task. We show that when compared to an equal control condition, the proposed mechanism improves the task performance regarding the task completion time and the efficiency of the user. We observed that even though the role exchange mechanism fails to decrease the physical energy consumption of the user, it improves the efficiency of the user by increasing the amount of work done by her. We also show that augmenting the system with additional informative visual and vibrotactile cues, which are used to display the state of interaction, allows the user to realize the underlying role exchange mechanism and utilize it in favor of the task. Also, we observed that these cues improve the user’s sense of collaboration and interaction, as well as reinforcing his/her belief that the computer helps with the execution of the task.

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A Negotiation Model for Affective Visuo-Haptic Communication Between a Human Operator and a Machine

Human communication is supported by a number of affective cues. The recognition as well as synthesis of these affective cues using machines have been the interest of the affective computing community. Most work on the synthesis of affective cues have focused on the generation of custom tailored facial animations, displays, gaze patterns and auditory signals for conveying affective state. The sense of touch (Haptics), which is an important communicative channel, has been little explored in this context. Moreover, work on affect synthesis has focused mostly on the generation of the traditional set of six basic emotions. In this paper we break new ground by focusing on how haptic and audio-visual cues can be used to convey a specific set of negotiation behaviors that are accompanied by negotiation-related complex affective states. Specifically, we introduce a two-party negotiation game custom built for studying the effectivenes of haptic and audio-visual cues in conveying negotiation related modes. We show that the addition of haptic cues provides a statistically significant increase in the human-recognition accuracy of machine-displayed cues. The game that we introduce is centered around a real-time continuous two-party negotiation scenario that we have based on existing game-theory and negotiation literature. Hence, in this paper in addition to the affective aspects of our game, we also focus on and report game-theoretical aspects of the overall interaction experience. In particular we show that as reported in the game-theory literature, certain negotiation strategies such as tit-for-tat generate maximum combined utility for the negotiating parties while providing an excellent balance between the work done by the user and the combined utility of the negotiating parties.

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