Q. What are the new innovative applications emerging for Haptic-based systems?
A. Haptics can be used anywhere depending on your imagination. When there is an operator involved in commanding a robotic system where application of forces is critical, a haptic device becomes a must. In a normal system, joysticks are used and the only thing known is the extent of the motion not the amount of force. We are using haptics for mobile robotic system for bomb disposal and surgical simulation, where the doctor can ‘practice’ his operation that he is supposed to do on a live patient or try to simulate different ways in which he can perform the same operation from different locations. We are trying to use haptic devices for assembly simulation. Most of the haptic devices that we have developed are passive devices or active devices where the device pushes an operation being performed like motor actuators.
Take the case of vehicular route mapping devices. Presently the driver has to look at the device to know where to turn. Now if the device is having a directional vibrating mode where the direction and amplitude of the vibration is dependent on the nearness of the turn. The driver can place the device in his pocket. As the turn approaches the directional vibration will tell the driver about the turn coming up and the direction. He does not have to take his eyes away from the road and it will be much safer for him and others on the road.
Another main application area in controlling an exoskeleton strapped to the human body. Especially for a soldier it will be easier for him to carry larger loads and control heavier machines. Haptics are also being used to mimic terrain realism. Consider giving a real feel to the simulation of different terrains a soldier will encounter while running over a rough mountainous terrain. The reality will add to the training efficiency of the training methodology.
Haptics is being used extensively used to teach surgery and stimulate different surgical procedure. We can train our doctors better and with lessor cost.
It will be much better in simulating machine control. Take the case of flying instruction or operating heavy machinery or even for remote control of heavy machinery. The list is endless and just depends on our imagination. Haptics can be very usefully be integrated into our education system to teach students about how to assemble different equipment. Try teaching 100 diploma students how to assemble a laser printer year after year. Try doing this every year. Just look at how many laser printers will be destroyed. Whit this technology you can teach the same student to assemble as many different model of equipment as we can imagine. We will be giving practical and effective education and will be producing employable workers.
Q. In which application vertical do you see great demand?
A. In the coming years, according to me, there is going to be a very big scope of haptic devices. We can compare it to how a mouse changed the operation of a computer. In the coming years, Haptics is going to change fundamentally the way we use our computer systems. Presently in India, I see that most of the work that we try to get out of the computer is output through the printer or the display. But once this technology comes down, it will become much more easier for us to control machines where you can do things which are not possible right now. Haptics is going to be a major vertical in future considering the demand.
Q. Basically what kind of audience do you target?
A. As far as haptics is concerned, everybody is a potential user. It has not been elaborated to people as to what this technology can do. We try to educate as many people as possible in every field. It can be used medicine, construction and many other fields. In this field it’s very difficult to judge where your next potential customer is going to come from. Some from woodworking could also be the next potential customer.