Artificial Intelligence

Haptics for Virtual Communication

Friday, July 20, 2018, 11:00am - 12:00pm PDTiCal
6th floor large conference room
This event is open to the public.
AI Seminar
Heather Culbertson, USC

The haptic (touch) sensations felt when interacting with the physical world create a rich and varied impression of objects and their environment. Humans can a significant amount of information through touch with their environment, allowing them to assess object properties and qualities, dexterously handle objects, and communicate social cues and emotions. Humans are spending significantly more time in the digital world, however, and are increasingly interacting with people and objects through a digital medium. Unfortunately, digital interactions remain unsatisfying and limited, representing the human as having only two sensory inputs: visual and auditory.

This talk will focus on the investigation of haptic devices and rendering algorithms to provide humans with touch information when communicating through a computer. I will present a background on the sense of touch, and illustrate how we can leverage this knowledge to design haptic devices and rendering systems that allow the human to communicate through the digital world in a natural and intuitive way. I will highlight contributions I have made in furthering haptic realism in virtual reality through the creation of highly realistic virtual objects. I will then describe advances we have made in novel wearable haptic devices for facilitating long-distance social touch between people.


Heather Culbertson is a Gabilan Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California. Previously, she was a research scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University where she worked in the Collaborative Haptics and Robotics in Medicine (CHARM) Lab. She received her PhD in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM) at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 working in the Haptics Group, part of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. She completed a Masters in MEAM at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, and earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno in 2010. She is currently serving as the Vice-Chair for Information Dissemination for the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics. Her awards include a citation for meritorious service as a reviewer for the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Best Paper at UIST 2017, and the Best Hands-On Demonstration Award at IEEE World Haptics 2013.

« Return to Events