On-skin haptic interfaces using soft elastomers which are thin and flexible have significantly improved in recent years. Many are focused on vibrotactile feedback that requires complicated parameter tuning. Another approach is based on mechanical forces created via piezoelectric devices and other methods for non-vibratory haptic sensations like stretching, twisting. These are often bulky with electronic components and associated drivers are complicated with limited control of timing and precision. This paper proposes HapBead, a new on-skin haptic interface that is capable of rendering vibration like tactile feedback using microfluidics. HapBead leverages a microfluidic channel to precisely and agilely oscillate a small bead via liquid flow, which then generates various motion patterns in channel that creates highly tunable haptic sensations on skin. We developed a proof-of-concept design to implement thin, flexible and easily affordable HapBead platform, and verified its haptic rendering capabilities via attaching it to users' fingertips. A study was carried out and confirmed that participants could accurately tell six different haptic patterns rendered by HapBead. HapBead enables new wearable display applications with multiple integrated functionalities such as on-skin haptic doodles, visuo-haptic displays and haptic illusions.
The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems