Touch&Fold: A Foldable Haptic Actuator for Rendering Touch in Mixed Reality

Shan-Yuan Teng, Pengyu Li, Romain Nith, Joshua Fonseca, and Pedro Lopes.
ACM CHI 2021

CHI Honorable Mention for Best Paper Award (top 5%)


We propose a nail-mounted foldable haptic device that provides tactile feedback to mixed reality (MR) environments by pressing against the user’s fingerpad when a user touches a virtual object. What is novel in our device is that it quickly tucks away when the user interacts with real-world objects. Its design allows it to fold back on top of the user’s nail when not in use, keeping the user’s fingerpad free to, for instance, manipulate handheld tools and other objects while in MR. To achieve this, we engineered a wireless and self-contained haptic device, which measures 24×24×41 mm and weighs 9.5 g. Furthermore, our foldable end-effector also features a linear resonant actuator, allowing it to render not only touch contacts (i.e., pressure) but also textures (i.e., vibrations). We demonstrate how our device renders contacts with MR surfaces, buttons, low- and high-frequency textures. In our first user study, we found that participants perceived our device to be more realistic than a previous haptic device that also leaves the fingerpad free (i.e., fingernail vibration). In our second user study, we investigated the participants’ experience while using our device in a real-world task that involved physical objects. We found that our device allowed participants to use the same finger to manipulate handheld tools, small objects, and even feel textures and liquids, without much hindrance to their dexterity, while feeling haptic feedback when touching MR interfaces.