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Haptic Interface with Variable Stiffness and Deformable Geometry

Stanford Reference:



Researchers in Prof. Allison Okamura’s laboratory have engineered a small, simple tactile display that can automatically control both its surface geometry and its mechanical properties. Most tactile displays cannot evoke multiple tactile sensations because of the electromechanical complexities. This novel, light-weight interface relies on air pressure and particle jamming to selectively deform, stiffen or soften an array of flat cells. This technology (called “Haptic Jamming”) was designed for medical simulations and also has applications as a haptic interface for virtual environments or mobile devices.

Prototype of Haptic Jamming array with four hexagonal cells.

Stage of Research
The inventors have built a prototype and demonstrated the feasibility of deforming into a variety of surface geometries over a range of stiffnesses under automatic control. They are planning to create a larger display with higher resolution than the initial prototype.


  • Haptic interface - combined cutaneous and kinesthetic display for:
    • virtual or teleoperated environments
    • medical simulators
    • buttons on mobile devices


  • Simultaneous, independent control of two features (mechanical properties and surface geometry)
  • Simple electromechanics
  • Lightweight interface


Related Web Links

Innovators & Portfolio

Patent Status

Date Released


Licensing Contact

Mona Wan, Associate Director
650-498-0902 (Business)
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[-] Map/Timeline

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Related Keywords

haptics   medical robotics   simulation and training   robotics/telerobotics   haptic systems   mobile robotics   virtual reality   Virtual patient   virtual instruments   virtual environment   telerobotics   tactile sensor   surgical simulator   computer: virtual reality   instrumentation: robotics   human machine interface   



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