Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Dianne Pawluk

Second Advisor

Dr. Ou Bai

Third Advisor

Paige Berry


Graphical information presented as pictures, graphs, maps, and the like are an important media for relaying knowledge and are a fundamental means of education rarely experienced by people who are blind or have a severe visual impairment. This thesis presents the design, development and testing of a multiple finger, haptic matrix dynamic display device capable of relaying graphical information through simulated textures. The design is based on user perception studies that determined which hand constraints provided the best tradeoff between simplicity of design, accuracy and time to answer. The best design was one that incorporated multiple fingers in close proximity to each other and restricted wrist rotation. Upon further testing after the development of the device, evidence was gathered to show its effectiveness. Although subjects could determine key information from the simulated textures, there is a clear mismatch between the simulated representations of the objects and their tactile or embossed counterparts. There is some evidence that shows that the spatial resolution of the actuators may be a source of this error and also some evidence to state that it is the inability to track the edges that causes the difference between determining the physical diagrams and the simulated. On the other hand, results on determining locations using simulated maps were far closer to the control texture maps used than the results for object diagrams. Further studies could be done to determine the effect of higher actuator spatial resolution on object identification and edge tracking.


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Date of Submission

August 2013