TacTiles: Dual-Mode Low-Power Electromagnetic Actuators for Rendering Continuous Contact and Spatial Haptic Patterns in VR

authors: Velko Vechev, Juan Zarate, David Lindlbauer, Ronan Hinchet, Herbert Shea, Otmar Hilliges
publication: In Proceedings IEEE VR 2019, March 23–27, 2019, Osaka, Japan

TacTiles Teaser

TacTiles are small and light form factor tactile elements that can be placed anywhere on the hand to render contact with virtual objects and enable haptic surface exploration. An individual TacTile is able to produce 200 mN of holding force on the finger without any power draw and is dampened on one side to minimize release vibrations.


We introduce TacTiles, light (1.8g), low-power (130 mW ), and small form-factor (1cm3) electromagnetic actuators that can form a flex- ible haptic array to provide localized tactile feedback. Our novel hardware design uses a custom 8-layer PCB, dampening materials, and asymmetric latching, enabling two distinct modes of actuation: contact and pulse mode. We leverage these modes in Virtual Reality (VR) to render continuous contact with objects and the exploration of object surfaces and volumes with spatial haptic patterns. Results from a series of experiments show that users are able to localize feedback, discriminate between modes with high accuracy, and dif- ferentiate objects from haptic surfaces and volumes even without looking at them.

Accompanying Video



This work was supported in part by a grant from the Hasler Founda- tion (Switzerland). We thank all participants for taking part in our experiments.