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The AHI : an audio and haptic interface for simulating contact interactions DiFilippo, Derek


A contact interaction occurs when two rigid objects strike, scrape, or slide against one another. Auditory and haptic (touch) feedback from contact interactions can provide useful information to an individual about their world. We have implemented a prototype human-computer interface that renders synchronized auditory and haptic contact interactions with very low (1ms) latency. This audio and haptic interface (AHI) includes a Pantograph haptic device that reads position input from a user and renders force output based on this input. We synthesize audio in real-time by convolving the force profile generated by user interaction with the measured audio impulse response of the real-world version of the virtual surface. The resulting auditory and haptic stimuli are tightly coupled because we produce both using the same force profile. Also, because we use a dedicated DSP for haptic control and audio synthesis we are able to achieve negligible system latency. The AHI is the only human-computer interface that we know of for providing closely coupled auditory and haptic stimuli with guaranteed low latency. Our work with the AHI draws on research results from a variety of fields: in haptics, audio synthesis, robotic measurement, and psychophysics. We have conducted a pilot user study with the AHI to verify that the system latency lies below the perceptual threshold for detecting synchronization between auditory and haptic contact events. We have also presented our work as a live demonstration at an international conference and have taken some preliminary steps toward integrating the AHI with a rigid body dynamic simulation. These three separate evaluations suggest that the AHI device and algorithms could prove valuable for further perceptual studies and for synthesizing continuous contact interactions in more general virtual environments with commercial haptic devices.

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