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Student Design And Development Of A Tactile Display With Three Dimensional Movements

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Capstone and Senior Design in Electrical and Computer ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1081.1 - 14.1081.11



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Paper Authors

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Andrew Patrick Texas A&M University

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Clint Vigil Texas A&M University

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Ryan Beasley Texas A&M University

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Ben Zoghi Texas A&M University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Student Design and Development of a Tactile Display with Three Dimensional Movements


This paper describes a senior-level class project in which two Electronics Engineering Technology undergraduates designed and implemented a novel tactile display. The display consists of four pins, each attached to a platform moved by three servos. The twelve servos are controlled by a commercial servo controller using software developed in the Python programming language. This project provided the students with experience investigating currently available systems in a rapidly expanding field, proposing electro-mechanical designs, evaluating the proposed designs, constructing a functioning prototype of the chosen design, and documenting the process. Guidance and evaluation throughout the project were provided by the course instructor and a technical expert.


Tactile feedback is a common method of providing information to users of a device through the sense of touch, e.g., vibrating cell phones, warning bumps on the shoulders of roads, and force- feedback joysticks. One heavily investigated type of tactile displays uses many individual pins pressed against the user’s hand or fingers1,2. The ultimate goal with such pin-driven displays is, through sufficient density of pins and high fidelity in control of each pin’s position, to recreate on the surface of the user’s skin the same shape as is either sensed at a remote location or generated in a simulation. In the first situation, such displays may provide feedback to surgeons controlling medical robots3 or to police controlling bomb-defusing robots, and in the second situation such displays could assist in rapid design by allowing designers to feel the shapes of potential creations.

Currently available devices are limited to a single degree of movement for each pin. There has been limited research into tactile displays that can move each pin both normally and tangentially to the skin. The use of 3D movement for the pins means the display can mimic more interactions between the skin and various remote or simulated surfaces4,5. This paper covers the experiences of two undergraduate Electronics Engineering Technology students in developing and constructing a tactile display with four pins with independent motion in three dimensions. This project was part of a class on control theory, and the students had previously taken classes in analog circuits, digital circuits, and circuit/component testing. Each student spent approximately 20 hours on this project.

Project Flow

This project was completed as part of a senior-level course on control systems. The students chose to work on this project as proposed by the technical expert. Together, the students and the technical expert decided upon appropriate goals, including construction of a working system and documentation. Then the students proceeded to review literature on the topic of pin-driven tactile displays. Once the students understood the design space, the students and technical expert

Patrick, A., & Vigil, C., & Beasley, R., & Zoghi, B. (2009, June), Student Design And Development Of A Tactile Display With Three Dimensional Movements Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5341

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