Haptics Group News
December 31, 2016 (in the future)
This date will be Dr. Kuchenbecker's last day as a Penn professor. Starting on January 1, 2017, she will be taking a leave of absence from Penn to become a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany. There she is establishing the new Haptic Intelligence Department, which will pursue research that is similar to her group's work at Penn. This move will be permanent, so all activities of the Penn Haptics Group will wind down and/or transfer to her new lab in Germany.
December 2, 2016
Alex successfully presented his ESE Ph.D. thesis proposal today. His committee was happy with the work he has done so far and is excited about his future research plans. Congratulations, Alex!
August 26, 2016
We had a Penn Haptics Happy Hour today at Distrito! We celebrated Naomi's completion of her MEAM Ph.D. thesis proposal and Jennifer's time in our lab. Congratulations to Naomi for taking this step toward her doctorate. And we wish Jennifer all the best in her move to California!
April 11, 2016
Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker attended Haptics Symposium 2016 and interviewed Katherine after over a year of learning about haptics. He recaps this haptics adventure in an article featuring both Katherine and Heather.
April 11, 2016
Tom Avril, a writer from philly.com, visited a Haptics Symposium 2016 demonstration session and featured both Katherine and Eric in his write-up of the experience.
April 8-11, 2016
Almost all members of our lab attended the 2016 IEEE Haptics Symposium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Katherine served as Co-Chair of the conference and Jeremy served as a Local Arrangements Co-Chair. Many other lab members pitched in to gather supplies, create signage, and arrange technical tours for the conference as well.
We presented two papers, two posters, and a demonstration. Check out highlights from the conference below!
April 1, 2016
We were delighted to hear that Elyse, an undergraduate researcher in our lab, was selected for a Goldwater Scholarship.
This prestigious prize comes with a grant to support individual research and is extremely competitive. Many Goldwater winners go on to become faculty and scientific leaders. Congratulations, Elyse!
March 30, 2016
We heard the great news that Naomi was selected as a 2016 winner of the John A. Goff Prize. The Goff Prize is the MEAM department's highest honor for doctoral students.
Dr. Prashant Purohit announced the winners of this award today at the MEAM Coffee Time. The Goff Prize went to both Naomi and Alison Koser from Dr. Paulo Arratia’s lab. This award comes with a cash prize of $1000 and a $500 travel grant. Congratulations, Naomi!
March 25, 2016
Christopher Grant visited the lab to try a haptic VR demo that we created for Tactai, Katherine’s start-up with Steven Domenikos. He wrote a nice article about the experience.
September 14, 2015
Rebecca defended her Ph.D. dissertation today!
The title of her thesis is "Increasing Transparency and Presence in Teleoperation Through Human-Centered Design." Her committee was Professors Michelle Johnson, Mark Yim, and Katherine Kuchenbecker. Rebecca gave a great presentation, and we all had fun celebrating with her afterward. Congratulations, Dr. Khurshid!
June 22-26, 2015
Many members of our lab attended the IEEE World Haptics Conference in Evanston, Illinois. Katherine, Heather, Jennifer, Naomi, Jeremy, and Brian all attended the conference, which ran from Monday through Thursday.
We presented two papers and two posters.
June 16, 2015
Heather defended her Ph.D. dissertation today!
The title of her thesis is "Data-Driven Haptic Modeling and Rendering of Realistic Virtual Textured Surfaces." Her committee was Professors Mark Yim, Daniel D. Lee, Yon Visell, and Katherine Kuchenbecker. Heather gave a great presentation, and we all had fun celebrating with her afterward. Congratulations, Dr. Culbertson!
May 15, 2015
We went out to breakfast this morning to celebrate all the lab members graduating this May. Everyone agreed that Sabrina's Cafe in University City was the perfect restaurant for such an outing; their food was delicious! Here is a group photo we took after the breakfast.
June 6, 2014
I was just notified that Siyao "Nick" Hu was selected to receive a MEAM MSE Merit Scholarship. This is a $10,000 tuition credit to recognize his excellent performance in classes here at Penn and to enable him to do research. Nick will be doing his project in our lab this coming fall semester. Please join me in congratulating him on this fine accomplishment!
June 2, 2014
All of our summer students have arrived, including two GRASP REU Site students and several Penn students. It's great to have new people in the lab!
May 20, 2014
Heather presented her Ph.D. dissertation proposal today. Her committee members are Mark Yim, Dan Lee, Yon Visell, and Katherine Kuchenbecker. She delivered a beautiful presentation; everyone was very impressed with the research she's already done, and they were intrigued by the future work that she is proposing to do in the next year. Let's all congratulate Heather on this great accomplishment!
May 19, 2014
Today was Penn's graduation, and many members of our lab earned their degrees. Vivienne Clayton completed her masters in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, while Alex Anon and Kent deVillafranca completed masters degrees in Robotics. Jackie Koehn completed her undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science with a MEAM minor, and Austin Remington completed his undergraduate degree in Biological Basis of Behavior. Congratulations to all the members of the haptics lab who graduated today!
May 9, 2014
Penn recently created a series of four multimedia features about robotics here in the GRASP Lab. The latest one includes a lot of work from our lab. Check it out! Rebecca is the one who helped them film the cool video at the top of the page. Woohoo! Many thanks to Rebecca and everyone else for helping put together great media like this.
May 2, 2014
Austin presented his BBB (Biological Basis of Behavior) honors thesis today. The title of his honors thesis is "The Effect of Audio Tool Vibrations on Performance in Laparoscopic Surgery." He did a great job in his presentation. He explained his research very clearly and did a great job answering the many questions from the audience. We are all so proud of Austin's research accomplishments and wish him all the best as he starts medical school at Stanford University in the fall. Congratulations, Austin!
April 28, 2014
Today was the reception to honor the 2014 winners of university-wide teaching awards. Professor Kuchenbecker was honored with a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. As you can see in the photos above, many of our lab members attended the reception to celebrate this great accomplishment. Thank you for your support!
April 16, 2014
We just heard great news: both Claudio's and Jennifer's papers were accepted to EuroHaptics for poster presentation. Congratulations!
March 3, 2014
Please join me in congratulating Claudio and Jennifer on the submission of their respective EuroHaptics papers: A Data-driven Approach to Remote Tactile Interaction: From a BioTac Sensor to Any Cutaneous Device by Claudio Pacchierotti, Domenico Prattichizzo, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker and Evaluating the BioTac in Lump Detection and Classification by Jennifer Hui and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Both papers present clever and interesting research through a clear and compelling story. Writing a paper is a ton of work whether it's your first (Jennifer) or your nth (Claudio). They both worked very hard to get their paper ready for submission today. Make sure you congratulate them both when you see them next!
February 23-26, 2014
Many members of our lab attended the IEEE Haptics Symposium in Houston, Texas. We presented one tutorial, four papers, and three hands-on demonstrations. Woohoo!
Seven of us (Claudio, Liz, Naomi, Rebecca, Katherine, Alex, and Heather) flew out to Houston on the same flight. We were happy to see Drexel Haptics professor Yon Visell and two of his students at the airport.
On Sunday, Katherine and Heather ran a half-day tutorial on "Haptic Rendering of textures". Their tutorial included hands-on activities with chopsticks and texture samples, plus three hands-on demonstrations of our texture rendering technology. On Monday morning, Heather gave a one-minute teaser for her associated paper, entitled "One Hundred Data-Driven Haptic Texture Models and Open-Source Methods for Rendering on 3D Objects." Her co-authors are Juanjo and KJK.
Later on Monday, Rebecca gave the talk for the paper she co-authored with Liz and KJK, entitled "A Wearable Device for Controlling a Robot Gripper With Fingertip Contact, Pressure, Vibrotactile, and Grip Force Feedback." In the following session, Katherine gave the talk for the paper Joe Romano and she wrote, entitled "Methods for Robotic Tool-Mediated Haptic Surface Recognition."
Alex showed a hands-on demonstration of our modular tactile motion guidance system all days of the conference. Below you can see him showing an actuator to Professor Seungmoon Choi from POSTECH. Katherine gave a talk for Will's paper on Tuesday as well; its title is "Dynamic Modeling and Control of Voice-Coil Actuators for High-Fidelity Display of Haptic Vibrations." That evening, we headed to the Houston Museum of Natural History for the conference banquet - dining with dinosaurs! We took a photo with all past, present, and future lab members (not counting the dinosaur). From left to right, they are Alex Anon, Mike Lo, Jeremy Brown, Rebecca Pierce, Craig McDonald, Liz Fedalei, Andrew Stanley, Heather Culbertson, KJK, Claudio Pacchierotti, and Naomi Fitter. What a great group!
The last day was all about the demonstrations. Below you can see Heather showing her texture rendering demo to a group of girls, alongside Rebecca and Liz showing their demo to a conference attendee.
Congratulations to everyone for a great Penn Haptics showing at the 2014 IEEE Haptics Symposium! Excitingly, it was announced that Professor Kuchenbecker will co-chair the next two conferences, and 2016 will take place in our home town of Philadelphia!
February 12, 2014
Today Vincent Hayward gave a talk at Drexel entitled "How the Mechanical Properties of the Fingertip May Impact the Tactile Sensory Function." As a Professor at UPMC in Paris, Vincent is a famous haptics researcher who previously worked at McGill University in Canada. We greatly enjoyed learning about Vincent's recent research and showing him around our lab afterwards. Many thanks to Vincent for visiting and to Drexel Professor Yon Visell for hosting Vincent on this visit!
February 7, 2014
Today's GRASP seminar was given by Aaron Dollar, an Assistant Professor from Yale. He and his group engineer soft, robust, capable robotic hands. We really enjoyed Aaron's talk and showing him around our lab!
January 26, 2014
We just heard the good news that Naomi Fitter was accepted to the 2014 HRI Pioneers Workshop! She was one of just 24 students selected from 66 applicants to participate in activities that will thoroughly introduce her to research in human-robot interaction. And it comes with $2400 of funding to cover her trip to Germany. Woohoo!
January 18, 2014
Professor Kuchenbecker recently did a Q&A interview about haptics for the magazine Future by Semcon. The publisher's website provides a pdf of the whole magazine issue. The article is teased on the front cover (bottom left corner), mentioned on page 3 with the title "Introducing Touch to the Computer World", and mentioned on page 4 in relation to the theme of the elderly. The full article is shown from page 28 to page 31. This magazine is also published in German and is distributed around Europe. Very cool! Many thanks to writer David Wiles and photographer Dave Moser for creating such a nice article about our research!
January 16, 2014
Vijay Kumar, Dan Lee, and Katherine Kuchenbecker participated in a live radio show today from 10 to 11 a.m. Eastern, as you can see in the photo below:
The show was broadcast live and replayed from 11 p.m. to midnight on WHYY (90.9 FM in the Delaware Valley). The Radio Times website offers several other ways to hear the show after it is broadcast.
December 18, 2013
We just heard the good news that Naomi's late-breaking report was accepted to HRI 2014 for presentation as a poster. The title is "Analyzing Human High-Fives to Create an Effective High-Fiving Robot," and the authors are Naomi T. Fitter and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker This is a great accomplishment - Naomi's first first-author paper and our lab's first paper at HRI! Please congratulate Naomi when you see her.
November 24, 2013
I have great news to share - all four of our 2014 IEEE Haptics Symposium papers were accepted. Please join me in congratulating the authors, as listed below!
One Hundred Data-Driven Haptic Texture Models and Open-Source Methods for Rendering on 3D Objects
Heather Culbertson, Juan José López Delgado, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Dynamic Modeling and Control of Voice-Coil Actuators for High-Fidelity Display of Haptic Vibrations
William McMahan and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Short oral presentation
A Wearable Device for Controlling a Robot Gripper With Fingertip Contact, Pressure, Vibrotactile, and Grip Force Feedback
Rebecca M. Pierce, Elizabeth A. Fedalei, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Short oral presentation
Methods for Robotic Tool-Mediated Haptic Surface Recognition
Joseph M. Romano and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Long oral presentation
This is a very good outcome for our lab! Below are some statistics on the submissions from the notification emails:
We received 158 submissions (an 8% increase from 2012): 140 papers and 18 extended abstracts. Of these, 38 papers and 3 abstracts were accepted for oral presentations (27%). Another 67 paper and abstract submissions were accepted for poster presentation, for an overall acceptance rate of 68%. Oral presentations will be given during single-track general sessions. Decisions for oral versus poster acceptance were based on quality, impact and audience interest in the research, as well as quality and appropriate length of the submission itself.
Congratulations to everyone on this great accomplishment for our lab. And many thanks to everyone who helped out the authors and supported them in their research. We're going to have a great presence at the conference in Houston.
November 22, 2013
Even more excellent news - Yosuke's Jointonation demo won the award for best Emerging Technologies demonstration at SIGGRAPH Asia, as voted by the Program Committee! This is a fantastic honor. The demonstration allowed the user to experience what it might be like to be a metal robot; as you flex your elbows and knees, the software generates vibration signals built from recordings from a real robot, which are played as sounds and as tactile vibrations. When you hit the end of the joint limits, you feel impacts and hear sounds as well. The emerging technologies demo was a game where the user played a robot and fought an evil red dragon. Amazing! The photo at right shows Yuriko Nakai, Yosuke Kurihara, Seiya Takei, and a representative from the conference committee. Yuriko edited the sounds and maps of the game, and Seiya wrote a lot of C# code in the Unity game engine. Congratulations to Yosuke, Yuriko, Seiya, their advisor Professor Hiroyuki Kajimoto, and the rest of the Jointonation team! Read more details on the Kajimoto Lab website.
November 16, 2013
Great news - Yosuke's paper won the "Best Paper Silver Award" at the 2013 International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology (ACE). This paper was on the research he did while he visited our lab a year ago, which lets a user experience how it might feel to be a robot. The title is "Virtual Robotization of the Human Body via Data-Driven Vibrotactile Feedback," and the authors are Yosuke Kurihara, Taku Hachisu, Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, and Hiroyuki Kajimoto. You can download the paper from Yosuke's website. Let's all congratulate Yosuke on this great accomplishment!
October 4, 2013
Today's joint IRCS/GRASP seminar was given by Greg Gerling, Associate Professor of Systems and Information Engineering at the University of Virginia. His talk title was "Computational Models of Tactile Mechanotransduction & the Design of Medical Simulators," a topic very related to what our group studies. We enjoyed learning about Greg's research and showing him some demonstrations in our lab. Many thanks to Greg for visiting Penn Haptics!
August 13, 2013
Several research projects from our lab were filmed in early May for an episode of the BBC show Dara O'Briain's Science Club. The main project they focused on was our work on enabling Graspy, our PR2 humanoid, to learn the meaning of various haptic adjectives; this is the work from our award-winning ICRA 2013 paper. The show is due to air this Thursday at 8pm on BBC2. Watch the teaser video on the BBC website: Graspy the touch sensitive robot
May 30, 2013
This afternoon we cleaned up the lab. It needed it! We found a lot of peculiar items and old projects, and we enjoyed putting them in their place (sometimes the garbage can). To celebrate, we all went out to Sitar Indian Restaurant, which has a delicious buffet. We ate until we were stuffed, and we enjoyed chatting with KJK's mom, Shari, who is visiting from out of town. Afterward, we took some photos on the steps in front of Chili's. It was a fun evening, and the lab looks a lot better now! Good work by everyone.
May 13, 2013
Today was Penn's 257th Commencement, and many members of the Haptics Group earned a degree and took part in the festivities. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden received an honorary degree and was the commencement speaker, so Franklin Field was fuller and more secure than usual.
Lab members gathered after the main ceremony to commemorate the occasion by taking the above photo. The front row shows Robert Parajon (bachelors in MEAM), Neel Shah (masters in Robotics), Dr. Will McMahan (Ph.D. in MEAM), Wan Surakiatch (bachelors in biochemistry, biology, and economics), Dr. Ted Gomez (M.D. and masters in translational research), Anna Brzezinski (bachelors in BE), and Professor Kuchenbecker (Ph.D. in ME from Stanford in 2006). The back row shows lab members who aren't yet leaving Penn: Jackie Koehn, Rebecca Pierce, Heather Culbertson, Jennifer Hui, Vivienne Clayton, and Naomi Fitter. Congratulations to everyone!
May 13, 2013
IEEE Spectrum just released an article about our haptic adjectives paper from ICRA 2013! "Finally: Robots Learn What 'Squishy' Really Means" by Evan Ackerman.
May 9, 2013
Our ICRA paper won the Best Cognitive Robotics Paper Award which comes with a $1000 prize! The paper is entitled "Using robotic exploratory procedures to learn the meaning of haptic adjectives," and the authors are Vivian Chu, Ian McMahon, Lorenzo Riano, Craig G. McDonald, Qin (Karen) He, Jorge Martinez Perez-Tejada, Michael Arrigo, Naomi Fitter, John Nappo, Trevor Darrell, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Vivian (2013 ROBO masters grad) gave the presentation in Karlsruhe, Germany. Ian and Karen are also current/recent ROBO masters grads. Craig, Jorge, Michael, and John were Penn undergrads when doing this work, and Naomi is a MEAM Ph.D. student. Lorenzo is a postdoc at UC Berkeley, and Trevor Darrell is a professor at Berkeley and a GRASP alumnus. This work was completed during our DARPA BOLT Activity E project on Perceptually Grounded Language Acquisition. Congratulations to the whole team for a job well done!
April 25, 2013
Anna's senior design team got first place in the SEAS senior design competition! This is a fantastic achievement! The team members were Anna Brzezinski, Zach Shurden, Nicki Blumenfeld, and Brian Horwich, and their project title was "Tactile Feedback for Monopolar Electrocautery in Minimally Invasive Surgery." Professor Kuchenbecker and lab member Ted Gomez worked with them over the last year to create a tool that helps surgeons safely use monopolar electrocautery during laparoscopic surgery. The team was chosen as one of the top three in the Bioengineering Department and thus advanced to the SEAS-wide competition. They completely NAILED their presentation, and many lab members were there to cheer them on. Winning first place from among all the SEAS senior design teams is a fantastic achievement. Congratulations Anna and team!
April 22, 2013
Ted successfully defended his M.T.R. thesis during a public presentation this afternoon. His thesis is entitled "The Role of Haptic Tool Vibrations in Skill Acquisition and Assessment in Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery." His committee included Dr. Richard Satava from UW, along with Dr. Joseph Woo and Dr. Thane Blinman from Penn. Several members of the lab went over to watch Ted's presentation, and he did great! Congratulations Ted! You're almost Dr. Gomez!
April 21, 2013
Ted, Will, Jennifer, Michael, Neel, Jackie, Anna, Adrian, Eza, and Kunal all worked really hard to put together a great booth for the SAGES Learning Center. Our booth was entitled "Adding Haptics to Robotic Surgery," and it was fantastic. Many thanks to Dr. Raj Aggarwal and Maribeth Balon for helping us get this spot in the Learning Center!
Dozens of people stopped by our booth and got to experience the tool vibration feedback that VerroTouch provides. As you can see in the photo below, the first station was a large television playing the videos and vibrations recorded during a variety of surgical practice tasks as well as real robotic surgery, and the second station was our da Vinci Standard equipped with VerroTouch. We also had posters summarizing many of our recent research results and plenty of lab members on hand to explain the technology and answer questions.
After they tried the demo, interested participants filled out a survey to share their thoughts on the utility of VerroTouch. Every person we spoke to was impressed with the quality of the feedback and excited to see this get integrated into actual clinical systems in the future. Many novice and experienced robotic surgeons got to try it, as did some representatives from Intuitive Surgical - the last one walked away saying it was FABULOUS. Professor Kuchenbecker also gave a talk about our technology on Friday afternoon in a session on the future of surgery and got a very positive response. The following speaker, the esteemed Dr. Jacques Marescaux, even gave us a shout-out in his talk, saying he tried our demo and it was PERFECT.
Such great successes aren't achieved without conquering a few challenges along the way. The team managed to prep our whole booth in record time and even secured IRB approval for the study we ran. Even more, the da Vinci was severely damaged during shipping or unloading, with the green arm rendered completely dysfunctional and the system unable to boot. The team rallied and enthusiastically showed only the TV part of the demo on the first day. Luckily, kind individuals at Intuitive Surgical arranged to have the robot fixed on the spot by obtaining and installing a new robot arm for free so we could run our demo on the second and third days of the conference. Thank you Intuitive, especially Dan Jones and Simon DiMaio and everyone else who helped! We couldn't have done it without you!
As you can probably tell, it was an intense but great experience! Join me in congratulating all the students involved on a job well done.
April 17, 2013
I'm delighted to announce some great news from the 2013 IEEE World Haptics Conference!
First, Heather and Craig both gave fabulous talks yesterday in front of an audience of about 300 people. Several professors came up to KJK to tell her how impressed they were with the quality and the clarity of Heather's and Craig's presentations. And they both answered questions beautifully!
Second, our haptography demo won the "Best Demo" award, as determined by an audience vote! There were about 80 demos here at World Haptics, so winning this award is an exceptional honor. It came with a 500,000 won award (~$450) and a lot of attention. There was always a line at our demo, including lots of famous haptics professors. It was especially satisfying to hear people's reactions when they felt how good our virtual textures are! Ben Goodman was a co-author on the demo because he was the one who got the haptic camera working, and Joe Romano is an honorary co-author because he wrote all the original software for the TexturePad.
Lastly, Heather's paper was one of the three finalists for the overall best paper at the conference. It wasn't selected for the award, but it was still a great honor to be chosen as a finalist for this highly prestigious award.
Please congratulate Heather and Craig on representing our lab so well! They have earned a fun vacation in Seoul and Tokyo!
April 11, 2013
Will defended his Ph.D. dissertation today!
The title of his thesis is "Providing Haptic Perception to Telerobotic Systems via Tactile Acceleration Signals." His committee was Professors Mark Yim, Dan Lee, and Katherine Kuchenbecker. Will gave a great presentation, and we all had fun celebrating with him afterward. Now all he has to do is make one last set of changes to his thesis, and we'll all be saying, "Congratulations, Dr. McMahan!"
March 29, 2013
Professor Kuchenbecker's TEDYouth talk was featured on ted.com today! She talked about haptics, the technology of touch, and highlighted three projects in our lab: Haptography, VerroTeach, and StrokeSleeve. Congratulations to everyone in the lab for contributing to this research!
March 29, 2013
We heard the wonderful news that three of our lab's current/past members just won NSF graduate research fellowships!
Naomi Fitter - first-year MEAM Ph.D. student at Penn
Liz Cha - previous summer researcher, now a Ph.D. student at CMU
Preeya Khanna - previous summer and school-year student researcher, now a Ph.D. student at UCSF/UC Berkeley
Winning an NSF fellowship is an amazing honor that gives you three years of funding to explore the research that most interests you during graduate school. Only about 1 in 10 applicants wins a fellowship. Congratulations to Naomi, Liz, and Preeya on this great accomplishment!
Two current lab members also were awarded honorable mentions in this fellowship competition - Vivienne Clayton and Vivian Chu. Only 1 in 10 students wins an honorable mention, so this is an accomplishment to be proud of as well.
Outside our lab, several other Penn students also won fellowships in this round, including Monroe Kennedy, Mickey Whitzer, David Gagnon, and Elizabeth Beattie. Please congratulate all of the honorees when you see them next. Bravo!
March 19, 2013
Ted Gomez entered the 2013 Medical Student Research Paper Competition and won the Jonathan Rhodes Prize for Surgical Scholarship, which comes with a $250 prize. This award was given for his paper entitled "Objective Assessment of Robotic Surgical Skills using Instrument contact Vibrations and Predictive Regression Models." Please join us in congratulating Ted on this great accomplishment!
February 28, 2013
Today we heard that Professor Kuchenbecker has been granted tenure and will be promoted to Associate Professor as of July 1. This is great news for the lab. Congratulations to everyone! Lab members surprised KJK by hanging a lovely sign on her office door, papering it, and having everyone sign it to convey their congratulations. We all celebrated the good news by having a party in the MEAM conference room.
February 4, 2013
We just heard the good news that both Heather's and Craig's papers were selected for oral presentation at the IEEE World Haptics Conference, which will take place in Korea in April. This is an excellent accomplishment, especially as only 32 total papers are given talks (the rest are presented as posters). Penn Haptics alum Andrew Stanley, now a Ph.D. student in Allison Okamura's lab at Stanford, will also be giving a talk at this same conference. And our recent visiting student, Yosuke Kurihara from Hiroyuki Kajimoto's lab in Japan, will be presenting a poster. Congratulations to Heather, Craig, Andrew, Yosuke and everyone else!
January 18, 2013
Today we enjoyed a visit from The Posies, a FIRST LEGO League team from nearby Germantown Friends School. This year's challenge was called "The Senior Solution," aimed at getting the kids to think of ways to use technology to better the lives of older adults. The Posies invented the TeleTouch, a LEGO device that allows two people to pat each other's hand during chat, adding the missing dimension of touch to digital person-to-person interaction. They demonstrated their invention and performed their TeleTouch skit, which included many facts about the health and emotional benefits of human touch (and included dancing to "I want to hold your hand"). We showed them our Intuitive da Vinci robot with VerroTouch vibrotactile haptic feedback, and they all got to try VerroTeach, our dental training system. It was a wonderful day for robotics and haptics! Many thanks to The Posies for visiting the Penn Haptics Group!
January 7, 2013
This morning we received the good news that our ICRA 2013 paper for the DARPA BOLT-E project was accepted. The paper is Using Robotic Exploratory Procedures to Learn the Meaning of Haptic Adjectives by Vivian Chu, Ian McMahon, Lorenzo Riano, Craig G. McDonald, Qin He, Jorge Martinez Perez-Tejada, Michael Arrigo, Naomi Fitter, John C. Nappo, Trevor Darrell, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Congratulations to everyone involved in this project!
January 3, 2013
Earlier today we received the good news that both of our World Haptics 2013 submissions were accepted. The first paper is Dynamic Simulation of Tool-Mediated Texture Interaction by Craig G. McDonald and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. The second paper is Generating Haptic Texture Models From Unconstrained Tool-Surface Interactions by Heather Culbertson, Juliette Unwin, Benjamin E. Goodman, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Congratulations to everyone involved, especially Craig and Heather. Publishing a paper at World Haptics is a great accomplishment.
September 22, 2012
Heather Culbertson was recently interviewed about her research by a blogger for Display Alliance. She gave great explanations about haptics, her haptography research, and our lab. The result was a great article entitled Haptography and the science of touchscreen texture. Heather even created a great video to explain how our TexturePad system works. Very cool!
August 3, 2012
Today was the final presentations for several summer research programs in Penn Engineering. Emily Hyman participated because she is a Rachleff Scholar, delivering a short oral presentation and a lovely poster. When the judges announced the winners, we all discovered Emily won Honorable Mention! She had to leave shortly thereafter to keep collecting data in her current study, but that didn't dull the sweetness of her victory. Good work, Emily!
July 24, 2012
Will McMahan gave his MEAM Department Seminar today; his talk was entitled ""Providing Haptic Perception to Telerobotic Systems via Tactile Acceleration Signals." All PhD students in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics are required to give a seminar like this, to let them practice their public speaking skills and to tell the Penn research community about the cool work they are doing. Will's presentation covered the development and testing of systems that measure and feed back tactile vibration signals as an indicator of tool vibrations, both on the bench-top and in the real operating room. He got many interesting questions from the audience, and our collaborator Dr. David Lee even attended the end of the talk. Congratulations to Will on a job well done!
July 20, 2012
Our recently accepted Surgical Endoscopy article is now available online! The title is In vivo validation of a system for haptic feedback of tool vibrations in robotic surgery, and the authors are Karlin Bark, William McMahan, Austin Remington, Jamie Gewirtz, Alexei Wedmid, David I. Lee and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. This paper was a long time in the making, and it includes a beautiful supplementary video showing video and tool vibration signals from the in vivo experiment. Congratulations to all the authors!
July 2, 2012
The latest issue of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics was just published. Excitingly, Joe's haptic texture rendering paper is included and even featured on the cover, as you can see in the photo at right. The paper is Creating Realistic Virtual Textures from Contact Acceleration Data by Romano and Kuchenbecker. This paper is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Professor Kuchenbecker's CAREER award. The reported research formed a substantial chunk of Joe's doctoral dissertation, and it is our lab's second article in this great journal. Congratulations, Joe!
May 12, 2012
Our lab has officially graduated its first PhD student! Joe Romano walked across the stage today and received his degree. The photos below show him and Professor Kuchenbecker before the ceremony and then on stage right after KJK hooded Joe. What a momentous occasion!
Joe's parents, brother, aunt, and girlfriend were all in attendance to see him earn his doctorate. He's taking a few weeks off before moving to Boston to begin his job as a Robotics Engineer at Heartland Robotics. Heartland is lucky to be getting Joe! We will miss him very much.
May 6, 2012
Our lab had a barbecue today at Professor Kuchenbecker's house to celebrate all the lab member graduations happening this May. Joe is earning his doctorate (the first one from our lab), and Charlotte, Craig, and Frank are all finishing their undergrad degrees. Here are a few photos from the event:
Many thanks to everyone who attended and helped celebrate the graduates!
April 20, 2012
The Philadelphia City Paper featured Professor Kuchenbecker and our lab's research as the cover story in their Science and Technology Issue. The title of the article is "Are You Ready For A New Sensation? GRASP Labs' haptographic robots have feelings for you." The writer is Shaun Brady, and the photographer is Neal Santos, whom Professor Kuchenbecker already happened to know from living in West Philadelphia. It's a lovely article, and we appreciate being featured in the local news in this way. Thanks, Shaun, Neal, and City Paper!
April 20, 2012
Today's GRASP seminar was delivered by Professor Russ Taylor from the Johns Hopkins University. His talk was titled "A Microsurgery Assistant System for Retinal Surgery." It was fascinating to learn about the work Professor Taylor and his team have been doing on robotic systems to enable surgeons to operate on back of the retina in the human eye! Professor Taylor also talked about some of the other projects going on the the ERC-CISST and the LCSR at JHU, including their Surgical Assistant Workstation, which looks very useful for our VerroTouch project. Professor Kuchenbecker was Professor Taylor's host; she knew him from her time as a postdoc at JHU, where she worked with Professor Allison Okamura.
April 19, 2012
Congratulations to Joe Romano for his successful doctoral defense today. It was great to see him present all his great research in just 45 minutes. The title of his thesis is "Combining Tactile and Kinesthetic Information in Human and Machine Haptic Systems."
Professor Kuchenbecker took some photos to commemorate the event - the first PhD graduate from the Penn Haptics Lab! They are posted in a password-protected online gallery. Email her to get the username and password.
Many thanks also to Heather and Rebecca for organizing the party after the defense. It was fun to see everyone coming together to celebrate Joe's great research!
April 10, 2012
The National Science Foundation recently created a video about our lab's Haptography research project, since it was funded through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant. The video shows Professor Kuchenbecker talking about the project and the potential uses for this technology - you can also see Heather's hand using the TexturePad, Robert demonstrating VerroTeach, Ben showing the haptic camera, and a bunch of lab members during lab meeting. Even cooler is that Penn is currently featuring this video as a multimedia news item on the main university homepage! Very cool.
March 22, 2012
The Electric Playground produced a video on the 2012 IEEE Haptics Symposium, which many of our lab members attended earlier this month. Rob pointed it out during group meeting today, and we all watched it together. You can see the TexturePad, StrokeSleeve, and VerroTeach! It's quite exciting.
February 9, 2012
Karlin is at Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) this week, and she reported that our VerroTouch project got mentioned this morning at the opening talk. There was a plenary session on Human Computer Interfaces in Medical Technology, and Hannes Bleuler from EPFL in Switzerland spoke about haptic interfaces for a bit. He referenced our EuroHaptics 2010 paper and showed images of VT from it and said it was one of his favorite examples of haptics in robotic surgery, saying "you can actually feel it when two tools hit one another!" VerroTouch also got a shout out at the IMSH conference Karlin attended last week, where it was mention by Dr. Bosseau Murray, the anesthesiologist collaborating with us on haptography for medical training and simulation. Go VerroTouch!
January 28, 2012
Several members of our lab helped out with the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) championships held at Penn today. As shown in the image at right, Robert and Pablo gave hands-on demonstrations of VerroTeach and the TexturePad all day, with some help from Heather. The participants really liked feeling the recorded teeth and textures. Ian, Eza, and Vivian all volunteered to help run other parts of the event. It was a great day for kids making robots and learning what engineering is all about!
January 25, 2012
As you can see in the image at right, Will presented his PhD thesis proposal today. The members of his thesis committee are Mark Yim, Dan Lee, and Katherine Kuchenbecker. The proposed title of his thesis is "Haptic Perception for Telerobotic and Robotic Systems Via Tactile Acceleration Signals." His presentation was clear and compelling, and it was great to hear the questions and suggestions that Mark and Dan provided. Congratulations, Will, on finishing your PhD thesis proposal! You are one step closer to earning your doctorate!
December 27, 2011
Our postdoc, Dr. Karlin Bark, has been named one of the Top 10 Women Who Impacted Technology in 2011 for her work on the StrokeSleeve project, which also garnered her a L'Oreal Postdoctoral Fellowship this year. This Top 10 list is maintained by Chip Chick! Congratulations, Karlin!
December 19, 2011
Professor Kuchenbecker just heard the very good news that the GRASP NSF REU Site proposal is most likely going to be funded. The title of the proposed REU Site was "Perception, Planning, Mobility, and Interaction for Next Generation Robotics." Professor Max Mintz is the PI, and KJK is the Co-PI. This means we are going to receive funding to host eight undergraduate researchers in GRASP each summer for the next three years. This is very exciting!
December 16, 2011
Today Joe and Kyle led a PR2 training workshop for other folks in our group who will be working with this great robot as part of our lab's participation in the DARPA BOLT Activity E project we are on with UC Berkeley. KJK, Rebecca Pierce, Vivian Chu, and Ian McMahon all attended and learned a lot. Many thanks to Joe and Kyle for taking the time to transfer their insights and tips to newer members of the group. And big congratulations to Kyle for taking a new job as a robotics engineer at Barrett Technology, Inc., the maker of the WAM robot arm and the Barrett hand.
December 5, 2011
David Wang came back to campus today to turn in his Masters thesis in Bioengineering, entitled "HALO: Haptic Alerts for Low-hanging Obstacles in White Cane Navigation." This was the last step toward getting his degree, so he's all done now. Congratulations, David! During his visit, he also spent some time with Suzanne Erb, the sponsor of his project. He set up his low-hanging obstacle course in the Towne basement, and Suzanne practiced navigating through it with the vibration alerts delivered by the HALO cane attachment. Suzanne had a great time learning how to use this new sensory feedback, and she had some good suggestions on how to make the next prototype even better. Now that he has graduated, David is applying for jobs in medical devices and high-tech intellectual property.
December 1, 2011
Our Intuitive Surgical da Vinci robot is fully functioning up in the main GRASP Lab. Today the whole VerroTouch team got trained on how to operate it by Bryan McKernan, our local clinical sales representative. As you can see in the photo at right, he taught us all the steps of how to turn on the robot, install the camera, install tools, and shut it down. Everything worked smoothly, and we're really excited to start using this system in our research.
November 22, 2011
Great news! We just heard that all three of our Haptics Symposium papers were accepted. Andrew and Simon's paper with Matt Maltese on the CPR manikin earned a long oral presentation. David's paper on the cane attachment earned a poster presentation, as did the texture modeling paper by Heather, Joe, Pablo, and Max Mintz. This is a truly excellent outcome all around. Good work by everyone!
November 18, 2011
Will, Simon, and KJK spent today at QinetiQ North America's office in Pittsburgh today as part of our participation in the Army-funded Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA). We are working with QinetiQ to add haptic feedback to the control of mobile manipulator robots in field applications. The best part of the visit was testing our current prototype in the QinetiQ robot proving grounds, which includes a wide variety of ground surfaces and obstacles to really test the operator's capabilities during teleoperation. Our results were encouraging, and we're excited to continue this collaborative project with Justin Teems and all the others at QinetiQ.
November 15, 2011
As you can see at right, our whole VerroTouch team met together today to lay out our strategy for the next nine months of research. This project is generously funded by a Coulter Foundation Translational Research Award, and Coulter's goal for us is to start a company or license our technology to one or more companies. It was great to get everyone together to talk over our various options and hone in on our strategy. Many thanks to everyone who participated, especially Dr. David I. Lee (the Co-PI on the project), Mike Whitman (our business advisor), and Shilpa Bhansali, our Penn Center for Tech Transfer representative.
November 8, 2011
Visiting Professor Seungmoon Choi gave today's MEAM seminar. His talk was entitled "Haptic Augmented Reality - Concept and Research Progress." He presented a wide range of work that his group has done on using instrumented haptic interfaces and custom rendering algorithms to modify how an object feels as you touch it with a tool. For example, they can make a soft sponge feel very stiff, and they can make a tennis ball feel soft like a sponge. Much of the research he showed was recently published in a Presence article entitled Real Stiffness Augmentation for Haptic Augmented Reality by Seokhee Jeon and Seungmoon Choi. The talk was fascinating, and there were many good questions and discussions afterward. Many thanks to Professor Choi for telling us about his research!
November 3, 2011
To help with our research on robotic surgery, we are the proud new owners of an Intuitive da Vinci Standard robotic surgery system! This robot belonged to Penn Presbyterian Hospital and was recently upgraded. Luckily, we were able to arrange for it to be donated to our lab for use in research and training. Here are some photos of it being unloaded and placed in the main GRASP Lab.
We're working hard to get the robot up and running. It will be super useful for our VerroTouch project.
October 20, 2011
Professor Kuchenbecker is attending the 2011 PopTech Conference this whole week as part of her tenure as a PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellow. Today is the first day of the conference, and her presentation was right at the end of the second session. Below are two photos of Professor Kuchenbecker giving her talk (photos by Kris Krüg for PopTech).
She started by asking the audience to think of a tricky manual task they completed recently, then emphasizing the importance of the sense of touch in all the manipulation tasks humans excel at. She then showed a slide of all the major projects our lab has worked on over the last four years (left image above). Given the strict five-minute time limit, she chose to highlight three specific projects: Haptography, VerroTouch, and Tactile Grasping. She ended by briefly acknowledging all the great students in the Penn Haptics Lab and showing their photos (right image above)! Check here to see more images of KJK on stage at PopTech 2011.
October 14, 2011
Today's GRASP seminar speaker was Alex Stoytchev, an Assistant Professor at Iowa State. As shown in the photos below, he gave a fascinating talk entitled "A Developmental Approach to Robotic Intelligence."
Alex takes inspiration from child development psychology to enable robots to learn to perform tasks correctly, rather than carefully pre-programming the robot for each task on its own. This research cuts across many areas relevant to GRASP, including visual perception, machine learning, artificial intelligence, manipulation, haptic perception, and more. His talk that was especially great because it included many videos of his own young son exploring and learning to manipulate a huge variety of objects in the world. Applying the developmental approach to robotics certainly seems like a promising way to move us closer to having a robot in every home. Many thanks to Alex for taking the time to visit Penn and inspire us with his cool work!
October 11, 2011
Willow Garage just released their video montage from IROS 2011. It shows lots of the cool demos present at the conference, and the star of the show is our very own Joe Romano and our PR2 demo! The video shows the robot giving hugs, handing out business cards, and giving many high-fives and fist-bumps. Joe's Penn Robotics GRASP Lab t-shirt also makes a great appearance. Good work, Joe!
October 7, 2011
Professor Kuchenbecker gave a TEDxPenn talk this afternoon. This is an independently organized event aimed at uniting a small group of local people around Ideas Worth Spreading. There were nine live speakers and three TED videos, all loosely organized around the event theme of "Imagining Reality." Professor Kuchenbecker titled her talk "Touching Reality," and she gave an overview of the haptics research going on in our lab, with details on VerroTouch, Haptography, StrokeSleeve, and Tactile Grasping.
October 1, 2011
The Urology Times just published a nice news article summarizing our group's recent work on VerroTouch, which adds vibrotactile and audio feedback of tool vibrations to robotic surgery systems. The main finding from our large study was that surgeons preferred to have this type of feedback available when doing certain manipulation tasks. The author of the article interviewed our very own Will McMahan to put together the story. Very exciting!
October 1, 2011
KJK and Joe had a great time at the IROS Conference in San Francisco this week. Joe showed his demo "Please
Do Not Touch the Robot" on Wednesday afternoon, and it got a lot of interest and great press attention.
First, check out this video by "Singularity Hub". Starting at 2:23, the video shows our demo shaking hands, giving out a business card, and then doing high-fives and a fist-bump. You can see Joe at the front left coaching the participant, since the PR2 we were given to use was mute (no voice). New: video footage of the demo is heavily featured in the Willow Garage IROS video http://www.willowgarage.com/blog/2011/10/11/iros-2011-montage.
Then check out this great stream of photos from the Denver Post. Images 3, 10, and 15 are of our demo. They show the PR2 taking a ball, giving out a business card, and calibrating the Kinect with a new user. The other images in this collection are very cool too.
Good work, Joe!
September 20, 2011
Please join me in congratulating everyone for our lab's monumental recent accomplishment - six conference papers submitted in the last week! Here is the full list:
Using Environmental Sound Detection To Improve the Success of Autonomous Robotic Manipulation
Joseph M. Romano, Jordan P. Brindza, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Submitted to the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
A Data-Driven Method for Determining Natural Human-Robot Motion Mappings in Teleoperation
Rebecca M. Pierce and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Submitted to the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
Spectral Subtraction of Robot Motion Noise for Improved Vibrotactile Event Detection
William McMahan and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Submitted to the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)
Recreating the Feel of the Human Chest in a CPR Manikin via Programmable Pneumatic Damping
Andrew A. Stanley, Simon K. Healey, Matthew R. Maltese, Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Submitted to the IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS)
HALO: Haptic Alerts for Low-hanging Obstacles in White Cane Navigation
Yunqing Wang and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Submitted to the IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS)
Refined Methods for Creating Realistic Haptic Virtual Textures from Tool-Mediated Contact Acceleration Data
Heather Culbertson, Joe Romano, Pablo Castillo, Max Mintz and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker
Submitted to the IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS)
All of the authors listed above worked very hard on these papers and all the research that preceded the writing process. A special congratulations to Rebecca, David, and Heather for submitting their first first-author research papers in our group. I also appreciate the work that others in the lab put in to help with these projects and papers, by talking with the authors, being a subject in a study, taking photographs of hardware, or helping edit the text. Good work! I am proud of all of you. - KJK
September 15, 2011
Our very own postdoc, Dr. Karlin Bark, was honored today in Washington D.C. as one of only five recipients of the 2011 L'Oreal Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women in Science. As pictured at right (photo by Nick Khazal/VI), Karlin received her award from Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who lauded her as "a superstar in robotics." Karlin wins a $60,000 grant to support her research on low-cost rehabilitation systems for stroke patients. You can read a full press release here. Our warmest congratulations, Karlin!
August 30, 2011
Joe Romano gave his MEAM Department Seminar today, entitled Enhancing Autonomous Robotic Manipulation via Haptic Perception. He gave a great overview of the research he has done in the last year and a half, primarily with the Willow Garage PR2 robot.
As you can see in the above left image, a lot people attended the seminar, and they asked some good questions at the end. Many thanks to everyone who came, and congratulations to Joe for a job well done!
August 25, 2011
Today was our annual end-of-summer lab party! We held it at Professor Kuchenbecker's house, and more than thirty people came. KJK ordered meat and side dishes from Baby Blues Barbecue, and many people brought drinks, appetizers, salads, and desserts.
As you can see in the photos above, people had a good time despite the sporadic rain. It was a great way to wrap up a good summer of research before everyone sits down to write their Haptics Symposium or ICRA paper!
August 20, 2011
Check out this SmartPlanet blogpost by Reena Jana, entitled Why design is key in haptics innovation! The writer interviewed Professor Kuchenbecker on the role that design and innovation play in our lab's work on haptic interfaces. They also discussed the recent PopTech Science Fellows training program that KJK participated in helped facilitate collaboration and idea exchange between young innovators from a wide range of areas. Many thanks to Reena Jana for a great article on haptics and design!
August 2, 2011
Today was the final presentation event for the NSF/AMP summer research program. In a lovely event at the Sheraton Hotel, Charlotte Rivera showed a poster and gave an oral presentation about her ten-week research project in the haptics lab, entitled "Vibrotactile and Auditory Feedback for Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery." She did a fantastic job and won first prize in the oral presentation category, which comes with a $100 award. Great job, Charlotte! We are very proud of your achievement. Karlin and KJK were both happy to attend the presentation.
July 29, 2011
We recently heard that our IEEE Transactions on Haptics article on data-driven texture rendering has been accepted. The title is "Creating Realistic Virtual Textures from Contact Acceleration Data," and the authors are Joe Romano and KJK. You can check out a pre-print here. Congratulations, Joe!
June 10, 2011
Today was a special day in the Haptics Lab.
We started off with group meeting from 10:30am to noon, where we celebrated KJK's upcoming birthday with cake and singing. Thank you to everyone! We also had a bunch of announcements plus heated discussions about what the lab computer password ought to be. To conclude, everyone said what they've been working on recently. Then many people went straight to 3D printer training, run by Jamie Gewirtz and Jonathan Fiene (thank you!)
After everyone ate a quick lunch, we did a mega lab clean-up from 1pm to 4:58pm. Everyone who was available worked together to straighten up and organize our lab. We put tools away, labeled things, sorted materials, and figured out other things to buy. Some highlights were cleaning out and defrosting the fridge, cleaning keyboards, sorting surface-mount electronic components, and finding random items that might be potentially valuable. Here are some photos from the clean-up.
Last, the reward for cleaning up the lab was be a lab get-together at 5pm at Pizza Rustica. Professor Kuchenbecker sponsored food and non-alcoholic beverages for everyone, and it was a lot of fun. Here are photos of everyone (except KJK) at dinner.
June 6, 2011
Today was a busy day in the haptics lab! We gave two big lab tours. Our first tour was in the morning for a group of local middle-schoolers. Heather coordinated this visit, and we showed them the TexturePad and VerroTouch Lite demos. We also talked about how cell cell phones vibrate and how to use haptics to make movies and games more immersive. Here's a portrait of this group of visitors along with their chaperones and the haptics lab students who helped run the tour.
The second tour was for the twenty-five participants in the Penn IRCS Undergraduate Summer Workshop on Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience, plus some of the students who have recently joined our research lab. Professor Kuchenbecker gave a 90-minute presentation on the sense of touch, with some quick hands-on experiments, and then the group came over to engineering to see a bunch of demos. First we visited the fourth floor of Levine, and Joe showed off the PR2 and its ability to give high-fives. Then we went down to the haptics lab and rotated everyone through seven hands-on demo stations: VerroTouch, CPR Mannikin, VerroTeach, Omni Virtual Environments, Haptic Cane, Tactile Gaming Vest, and TexturePad. Everyone seemed to have a great time. Here's a portrait of the IRCS visitors intermixed with haptics folks.
To add to the excitement, we had a local high-school student visiting today. He spent time with various students in the lab, went to KJK's talk, and participated in both tours. Can you spot him in the photos above? Many thanks to all the haptics lab students who helped out in running both of these tours!
June 2, 2011
Rebecca gave her MEAM PhD qualifying exam presentation today, and she did a great job. The title of her report was "Automated Motion Mapping," with an application to teleoperation of kinematically dissimilar manipulator robots. In addition to KJK, the committee members were Vijay Kumar and Mike Carchidi. Congratulations to Rebecca on a job well done!
May 21, 2011
We just heard that the article we submitted to the IEEE Transactions on Haptics special issue on Special Issue on Haptics in Medicine and Clinical Skill Acquisition has been accepted for publication. This paper covers the design and initial testing of our VerroTouch system. The title of the paper is "Tool contact acceleration feedback for telerobotic surgery," and the full author list is William McMahan, Jamie Gewirtz, Dorsey Standish, Paul Martin, Jacquelyn Kunkel, Magalie Lilavois, Alexei Wedmid, David I. Lee, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker Congratulations to everyone!
May 19, 2011
Today Heather gave her Ph.D. qualifying exam presentation, entitled "Critical Analysis of Techniques for Creating Haptic Texture Models from Free-Capture Tool-Surface Contact Data." Her committee consisted of Mark Yim, Mike Carchidi, Max Mintz, and Katherine Kuchenbecker. She gave a great talk and answered questions adeptly. We all congratulate her for completing this important step in the progress toward her doctorate.
May 16, 2011
Will McMahan is at the Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) today, presenting a poster entitled "VerroTouch: Vibrotactile Feedback for Robotic Minimally Invasive Surgery." He gave a three-minute talk in a moderated poster session on "Technology and Instruments: Robotics/Laparoscopy." Our poster was selected as the best poster in the session, so it's now located in a large room with all the other best posters. Here is a movie that shows the tasks used in the study described in this abstract. Great job by Will and the rest of the VerroTouch team!
May 16, 2011
Today was Penn's commencement - a wonderful ceremony, complete with speeches by Penn President Amy Gutmann and honorary degree recipient Denzel Washington. Many students who have worked part-time in the lab and/or taken haptics class graduated with a bachelors and/or a masters degree. Tim Herrmann finished his masters in EE, and Will McMahan got his masters in MEAM. Both Andrew Stanley and Paul Martin earned their bachelors degrees. Andrew (shown at right with KJK) is going to Stanford for a PhD in ME, and Paul is going to UCLA for a PhD in EE. Congratulations to all the haptics graduates!
May 13, 2011
Today Professor Kuchenbecker gave a thirty-minute talk in the ICRA 2011 Workshop on Mobile Manipulation: Integrating Perception and Manipulation in Shanghai, China. As you can see at right, the workshop was well attended, and there were many great invited talks and submitted papers. The title of Professor Kuchenbecker's presentation was "Human-Inspired Robotic Grasp Control with Tactile Sensing," work completed by Joe Romano during his time at Willow Garage, working with Kaijen Hsiao, Gunter Niemeyer, Sachin Chitta, and KJK. The talk was well received, with interesting questions about how the approach could be adapted to other robotic platforms beyond the PR2. The workshop organizers posted a pdf of Professor Kuchenbecker's slides for all those who are interested.
May 12, 2011
Professor Kuchenbecker is in Shanghai, China, for ICRA 2011 this week. She is attending lots of great talks and enjoying catching up with colleagues from around the world. Yesterday she heard some great news - she won the Award for Best Associate Editor of the conference, tied with Ryan Smith. This is a great honor for the often invisible duty of recruiting reviewers and making acceptance/rejection recommendations for papers.
Tonight was the farewell event for the conference, which included a cruise on the river that runs through the center of Shanghai. A few of her favorite photographs from the trip are shown above.
May 9, 2011
Excellent news: Karlin won a L'Oréal USA Fellowship for Women in Science! Here is a description about the program from their website:
The L’Oréal USA Fellowships for Women in Science program is a national awards program that annually recognizes and rewards five U.S.-based women researchers at the beginning of their scientific careers. Recipients receive up to $60,000 each that they must put towards their postdoctoral research.... An inter-disciplinary panel of scientists reviews all applications submitted. The top candidates chosen by the review panel are then forwarded for final selection to a distinguished Jury of career scientists and former L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureates. The Jury seeks candidates with exceptional academic records and intellectual merit, clearly articulated research proposals with the potential for scientific advancement and outstanding letters of recommendation from advisers.
This is a very competitive and prestigious program; they receive hundreds of applications and make only five awards. Penn recently posted an article about the award too. Make sure to congratulate Karlin on this wonderful accomplishment!
April 5, 2011
Wonderful news! We just heard that Heather, Rebecca, and Andrew all won NSF graduate research fellowships! Heather and Rebecca are in their first year of the doctoral program here at Penn, so they'll be using their fellowships here. Andrew is a senior, and he has been admitted to several PhD programs in California, so it will be either UCSB, Berkeley, or Stanford for him. Paul also won an honorable mention, and he is already committed to going to the EE doctoral program at UCLA. Winning an NSF fellowship or honorable mention is a fantastic accomplishment, so we all have a lot to be proud of. It's a great day for Penn Haptics!
January 3, 2011
The Philadelphia Inquirer sent Tom Avril, their top technology reporter, to our Haptics Open House last month. He tried out all the demos, interviewed the students in the class, and talked with Professor Kuchenbecker about the field of haptics and other work going on in our lab. Today, the Inquirer ran the resulting article on the front page of the Health & Science section, as pictured below:
You can read the full text of the article and see the four associated photographs on the Philadelphia Inquirer website. The article highlights many of the projects in the class, including the virtual cane by David W., Dheeraj, Huan, and Moo, who were advised by Suzanne Erb. It also mentions the soccer project by Ani, Ben W., and Jacob; the surgical palpation project by Ben G., David S., and Heather; the drum project by Andrew, Ian D., and Tim; and the golf project by Jackie, Jordan, and Peter; and our research lab's VerroTouch project. Great work by everyone, and many thanks to Tom Avril and the Philadelphia Inquirer for showcasing our work in this way!
December 30, 2010
MentorNet recently ran a nice article about Professor Kuchenbecker's path from graduate school at Stanford to her job as an Assistant Professor here at Penn. Entitled MentorNet Alumna: Being a Woman in Engineering is "Fun", it mentions the important influence of three of her mentors: Elisa Barney Smith, Allison Okamura, and Sheri Sheppard. Elisa was KJK's official MentorNet mentor, Allison was her post-doctoral advisor, and Sheri was her mentor during graduate school at Stanford. All three of them helped guide her to her job here at Penn. Many thanks to MentorNet and all the mentors in the world.
December 10, 2010
This year's Haptics Open House was today from 1pm to 3pm in Towne 144 and 195. All twenty-eight students in KJK's MEAM 625 class on haptic interfaces presented hands-on demonstrations of their course projects. Here is the flyer we used to advertise the event around the engineering school:
Here's a photo of the whole class after their in-class presentations:
The projects included the following demonstrations:
- Improve your golf putting accuracy by practicing your swing with haptic guidance
- Throw and catch a virtual ball that you can feel in your hand
- Blindly navigate unknown areas using a smart cane that alerts you to overhead obstacles
- Play a virtual drum that you can see, feel, and hear all at once
- Kick a virtual haptic soccer ball and try to score a goal
- Watch the PR2 robot automatically find objects on a table via tactile scanning
- Learn how to hit a tennis ball from a virtual haptic tennis coach
- Try to locate the lump in a mock prostate using a tactile sensing array for robotic surgery
Here are photos of all eight projects:
Both rooms were packed with visitors for the whole duration of the open house, with long lines for all the demos. We were happy to be visited by several members of the local press, lots of folks from the Penn community, and thirty young members of local First Lego League teams with their parents. Great work by all the haptics class students and everyone who helped make this event such a roaring success!
December 10, 2010
Today we had a very special visitor to our lab: Dr. Günter Niemeyer. Günter is a senior research scientist at Willow Garage and adjunct faculty in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. Even more importantly, he was Professor Kuchenbecker's doctoral advisor at Stanford, so he is the academic grandfather of everyone in our lab.
As you can see in the photo at right, Günter gave a GRASP seminar entitled "Model-Mediated Telerobotics", where he presented compelling arguments against just sending positions and forces over the communication channel between master and slave robots. Instead, he argued that the slave should fit a simple model to the contact it is experiencing and send the parameters of that model, so that the local master controller can render interactions with the model at a high rate. There was great attendance (including our whole research lab and everyone from MEAM 625), and there were many good questions during and after the talk. After applauding the speaker, we adjourned to a delicious naked burrito bar from Qdoba Catering (a much appreciated change from the standard pizza lunch). Many thanks to Günter for coming out to Penn and giving such a great talk!
November 23, 2010
The Pac-10 just released a neat article about Professor Kuchenbecker entitled "From Sports to Science: Stanford's Kuchenbecker". The article was written by Brian Price and was inspired by Dr. Kuchenbecker's recent Popular Science Brilliant 10 honor. So, why is the Pac-10 interested in Professor Kuchenbecker? She played on the Stanford women's varsity volleyball team as an undergrad, winning Division 1 NCAA championships in 1996 and 1997 and Pac-10 league championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998. The photo accompanying the article shows Professor Kuchenbecker and a bunch of students from her MEAM 625 class in Spring of 2009 doing a team cheer after the class's public open house. It's great honor and a credit to the whole lab that we are being recognized in this way.
Willow Garage just released a video celebrating the third birthday of ROS, their open-source software package for robots. Check out Joe giving the PR2 a high-five about 20 seconds in. This is based on the work he did on tactile events during his time at Willow this summer. Good work, Joe!
You can read more about this research below in the news item from September 13.
There has been a lot of great publicity surrounding Dr. Kuchenbecker's recent selection to the Popular Science Brilliant 10. Here is a quick list of the highlights: the original PopSci article, the Daily Pennsylvanian article with quotes by Andrew Stanley and others, Stanford Women's Volleyball coverage of the award, and the Penn Current interview with KJK about her teaching, research, and the award. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this possible!
We were delighted to be visited today by Dr. Marcia O'Malley, an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University. Marcie is also a haptics researcher, focusing much of her work on haptics for motion guidance and rehabilitation. In addition to a full day of meetings with various GRASPees, she joined KJK's MEAM 625 graduate class on haptics for a discussion of her recent Presence paper, Expertise-Based Performance Measures in a Virtual Training Environment. It was great to have an author there to answer questions and give behind-the-scenes insights on how the work progressed and what has been done since publication. After that class, Marcie headed over to Wu and Chen to give her GRASP seminar, entitled On the Design and Use of Therapeutic Robots: Ensuring Clinical Relevance. Her talk was very well received, and there were lots of interesting questions from the audience afterward. We are very grateful to Marcie for visiting Penn Haptics, and we look forward to following her work for years to come.
Wonderful news! Maggie Lilavois won first place in the regional NSF/AMP poster presentation competition on Saturday. Maggie presented her research on the VerroTouch project, focusing on the surgeon study that we ran at the end of the summer. AMP is the Alliance for Minority Participation, and it is the organization that supported Maggie's work in our lab this summer. The photo at right shows her accepting the award, which came with a cash prize of $500. This is a wonderful honor, and we are really proud of Maggie for her great accomplishment.
We are delighted to report that Professor Kuchenbecker has been named one of the 2010 Brilliant Ten by Popular Science Magazine. This honor is bestowed on ten researchers under the age of 40 each year. Katherine is being recognized for her contributions to the field of haptics, and the article discusses several projects from our lab, including the Tactile Gaming Vest, VerroTouch, and Haptography. The full-page photo was taken in our lab, and the whiteboard even shows real drawings from our summer research.
Penn just put out a news release on this exciting item, and the image above shows a montage of the article, which you can also see here. This is a wonderful honor, and everyone in the Penn Haptics Lab should be proud of helping earn this award! Great work all around.
Today we gave a lab tour to a local Junior Lego League team, which was tons of fun. Their team includes seven boys between the ages of six and nine, and their current challenge focuses on biomedical engineering.
As you can see in the photos above, we showed them a whole bunch of interactive demos of our lab's research. We started by having Joe Romano bring out the Willow Garage PR2 robot, running his high-five code, so that the kids could exchange high-fives and fist-bumps with the robot. We talked about what kinds of senses humans have and what kinds of senses robots can use. Then we went down to the haptics lab and tried out Will McMahan's Omni teleoperation demo, which showcases the benefit of tactile feedback of tool vibrations. They all agreed that the surface on the right felt much more real, and they were shocked to discover that the difference was all in the robot controller - they thought the two pieces of wood were actually different.
Then we talked about the Intuitive da Vinci robot as a teleoperation robot used for surgery, and how our lab has developed the VerroTouch system to add in feedback of tool contact vibrations. We showed the video of how VerroTouch attaches to the da Vinci, and then we let them all try VerroTouch Lite, the bench-top demo of these tool sensations. They really liked feeling the objects through the laparoscopic tool, and they were able to figure out why the system goes unstable when you touch the tool and handle together (feedback). Next, we showed them the TexturePad, which lets you feel bumpy surfaces and strong haptic event cues on the surface of a Wacom tablet. Finally, Andrew Stanley showed them his tactile actuators, and they spent some time drawing on the board and talking about what they had learned.
It was great to see how much energy these kids had. They were super excited about all the things we were able to show them, and they especially enjoyed all the interactive demonstrations. Photos from the day are posted in a password-protected gallery; email KJK for the password if you'd like to see them. Many thanks to everyone who helped run this tour, especially Joe, Andrew, Heather, and Andy!
Joe Romano spent his summer working at Willow Garage, the California start-up that makes the PR2 personal robot. Today, they published Joe's blog entry, which summarizes the work he did there this summer. It was all about Tactile Sensing for the PR2 - enabling the robot to delicately-yet-firmly pick up unknown objects, detect unexpected collisions with the environment, and exchange high fives and fist bumps with humans. This is very cool work. Check it out! For more details, you can also look at Joe's pages on the PR2GRASP site. Keep up the good work, Joe!
The video has been covered by several third-party sites, including:
Professor Kuchenbecker is teaching her MEAM 625 class on Haptic Interfaces this semester. It's a graduate-level introduction to the field of haptics, and there are more than twenty-five students signed up! Today we did a lab tour for the class students, showing them demos of seven of our research systems: Omni teleoperation, VerroTouch, body-grounded tactile actuators, StrokeSleeve, Texture Pad, Omni virtual environments, and the Tactile Gaming Vest. Many thanks to Will, Jamie, Andrew, Joe, and Andy for helping run the demos. The photo at right shows the class right after the tour; it's going to be a great semester.
The Penn GRASP Lab just released the Summer 2010 GRASP Newsletter, which catalogues all of the great developments and accomplishments around the lab for the last year. Our group shows up many times, including Professor Kuchenbecker's NSF CAREER award, Joe's best teaser award at Haptics Symposium, and all the great undergraduate researchers we've had working with us for the last year. Congratulations all around!
Our research group was recently featured in the cover article for the July/August 2010 issue of the Penn Gazette (Penn's alumni magazine). The tag line on the cover was "Hacking the Human Sense of Touch," and the title of the article was "Touching the Virtual Frontier." This amazing article was written by Trey Popp, and the accompanying photograph was taken by Candace di Carlo. We were really happy with how well the article captured the spirit of the research in our lab, ranging from the Tactile Gaming Vest to Haptography, the StrokeSleeve, and VerroTouch. The writer really took the time to learn about what we do and write about it in a way that anyone could read. Many Penn alumni and friends have contacted us after reading this article, and we're excited about the directions those new connections may take our work. Many thanks to everyone involved in making this article happen!
We had an end-of-summer lab party tonight, to celebrate all the great research people have done this summer. Andrew was gracious enough to host us at his apartment, and KJK picked up food from Percy Street Barbecue, which made her car smell like meat.
After loading up our plates with brisket, ribs, chicken, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese, we basked in the late-afternoon haze in Andrew's concrete backyard, on chairs KJK donated for the occasion. Then we enjoyed delicious homemade cupcakes, lemon squares, brownies, and chocolate-covered Oreo cookies while wondering if we ever needed to eat again. When it started raining, we headed inside to play Taboo. We played guys against girls, and the women won handily. We laughed many times during the game, but never harder than during Nils' explanation of "pickpocket." All in all, it was a great lab party, and we appreciate everyone who helped organize and attended! Keep up the good work!
The Penn Haptics group ran two fun design activities for Penn GEMS, a week-long summer camp for local middle-school girls interested in math, science, and engineering. Many students in our lab helped out on both days, and KJK ran the activities, which were called Mechanical Engineering in Action!
As you can see in the photos above, we ran an egg drop challenge yesterday for the older girls. Each team of three campers had do build a device that could catch a raw chicken egg dropped from a height of six feet. Their materials were just five popsicle sticks, four rubber bands, three pieces of 8.5" by 11" printer paper, and one foot masking tape. It was a tough challenge, but all of the teams managed to successfully protect the egg with the first or second device they built.
As you can see in this second pair of photos, we ran a tower building challenge for the younger girls. Each pair of campers received just ten sheets of newspaper and one meter of tape. Their tower needed to be free standing and elevate a small ball as high as possible off the ground. Teams were given both a racquetball and a lacrosse ball (heavier) to test their designs with, and everyone made two prototypes, making sure to build on the ideas of others. Everyone built sturdy, tall towers - far higher than they expected they'd be able to at the start of the challenge.
Penn's publicity group made a great YouTube video about the Penn GEMS summer camp. There's good footage of our egg drop challenge starting at 1:48. You can also visit a password-protected gallery of photos from the two events. Many thanks to everyone who participated. It was a whole lot of fun.
The second day of EuroHaptics was really busy for our group. As you can see in the photo at right, Nils presented the poster for our paper entitled "Dimensional Reduction of High-Frequency Acceleration Signals for Haptic Rendering." The co-authors on this paper are Joe, Will, and KJK. Nils was happy with the interest he received in his research, with many different people coming up to him to talk about the work he'd done and ask questions. Part of this enthusiasm was doubtlessly inspired by the related hands-on demo of the TexturePad, which is one of the two demonstrations we presented today.
The first Penn Haptics demo was the TexturePad - a stylus-based touch screen with haptic feedback for realistic textures and event-based cues - which KJK presented, with some help from Nils (when he wasn't at his poster). Joe is the one who created this system, and several others have helped improve aspects of it. For example, the renderings now use Nils's algorithm for dimensional reduction. We're currently working on a user study on this system, and we hope to submit a journal article about it soon. You can see someone trying out this demo, and KJK presenting it, in the photos above. It was great to get feedback from so many users!
Our second demo was of the VerroTouch Lite system, to accompany our paper and KJK's talk on the VerroTouch project. Karlin presented this demo with some help from KJK. This demo let participants touch various objects with an instrumented laparoscopic surgical tool. An accelerometer on the tool measures contact vibrations, and the VerroTouch circuit and actuator allow the participant to feel an amplified and filtered version of these vibrations in their other hand. We also showed videos of the tasks we're planning to use in the user study this summer, which will be documented in a journal article as well. The two photos above show someone trying out the demo and KJK and Karlin presenting it.
Today was the first full day of EuroHaptics 2010. KJK gave an oral presentation for our paper entitled "VerroTouch: High-Frequency Acceleration Feedback for Telerobotic Surgery," which was well received. The audience had many interesting questions about the project, and they seemed excited to be able to try the demo tomorrow. Congratulations to everyone who worked on this paper and the presentation - Jamie, Will, Dorsey, Paul, Jon, Pierre, David, Maggie, and Jackie!
KJK, Nils, and Karlin arrived at EuroHaptics 2010 today. The conference is being held at Vrije University in southern Amsterdam, and it includes a day of workshops and then three full days of talks, posters, and demos. The area around the conference is very nice, as you can see in the photo at right, and it looks like it's going to be a great meeting!
Today GRASP was visited by one of our own alumni, Professor Milos Zefran from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Milos gave a special GRASP seminar entitled Teaching Sensorimotor Skills with Haptic Playback which was highly relevant to many of the projects currently underway in our lab. Most of the students in our lab attended his talk, and we enjoyed his perspective on motion training, which involves viewing the visual and haptic feedback as inputs to the user model; Milos uses principles from controls to design feedback signals that help the user reduce the tracking error in the task performance. Before the talk, KJK showed Milos demos of several of the projects we are working on, which was a lot of fun. Many thanks to Milos for visiting Penn!
Today KJK gave a lecture on haptics for the twenty-five participants in the 2010 IRCS Undergraduate Summer Workshop on Cognitive Science, and then she brought all those students down to our lab for a one hour lab tour with six different hands-on demonstrations. Many thanks to everyone who helped out with this! Adam ran the Omni teleoperation demo, Preeya and Rikki showed the StrokeSleeve, Dorsey and Maggie ran the VerroTouch station, Peter H. showed the bouncing ball and needle poking haptic VEs on the Omni, Andrew S. presented the Tactile Gaming Vest, and Craig showed the TexturePad.
The visiting students spent about ten minutes at each station, rotating around the lab, trying all the demos, and asking lots of questions. At the end, we did a debriefing session at the white board where we asked the visitors to share their thoughts on our existing demos and suggest new things we could work on. The visitors seemed to enjoy learning about haptics and trying out our research demos!
Several members of the Haptics Lab spent some time on Hill Field today, helping Professor Dan Lee and the rest of his team set up a robotic obstacle course. Professor Lee's group is competing in the Multi Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge (MAGIC 2010), and they are doing an official demonstration this Friday. It's great to see members of the lab helping out our larger GRASP Robotics community like this!
Today we were delighted to be visited by Dr. Roger Cholewiak, who is an expert on tactile perception. After earning his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia, Dr. Cholewiak started as a research assistant in the Cutaneous Communication Laboratory at Princeton University in 1974. He eventually became the director of the lab and only recently retired.
Dr. Cholewiak gave a GRASP Special Seminar entitled Touching the World: Applying a Career in Basic Research to Solving Practical Problems. He gave a good introduction to the field of tactile perception and clearly explained five common misconceptions that can interfere with the successful implementation of a tactile feedback system. He then presented several case studies of projects he has worked on as a consultant since retiring from Princeton in 2004. There was a great audience, including most of the students who work in the Penn Haptics Group. Afterwards, Dr. Cholewiak went out to get lunch with a group from our lab. We got our delicious food at Picnic, and we brought it back to the SEAS CyberCafe to eat. After lunch, Dr. Cholewiak showed us several interesting tactile feedback systems, including the Optacon shown at left.
Today was GRASP Discovery Day, where sixty young students from Bala Cynwyd Middle School came to Penn for a fun day of robotics tours and discussions. The Haptics Lab participated in the tours, as you can see in the photos below.
We gave demonstrations of five different research systems, including the StrokeSleeve, the Tactile Gaming Vest, our TexturePad, VerroTouch, and the Omni teleoperation system with acceleration matching. The demos were a big hit with the students! Many thanks to everyone who participated.
Today was graduation at the University of Pennsylvania. Many former and current members of the lab received degrees, and Professor Kuchenbecker enjoyed participating in the many ceremonies. Mallory Jensen earned her bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM). Amal Abdul Rahuman, Jonathan Bohren, and Travis Van Schoyck earned both bachelor's and master's degrees. And at the master's level, Eddie Li, Jamie Gewirtz, Joe Romano, Pulkit Kapur, Saurabh Palan, Hao Jiang, Jon Schmid, Kyle Winfree, Steve Gray, Quentin Lindsey, and Sunthar Premakumar all earned their master's degrees, along with several people who took KJK's class on haptics. As you can see in the photo at right, it was a lovely celebration of these students' accomplishments!
Kyle Winfree, Joe Romano, and KJK are all in Anchorage, Alaska, this week to attend the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Our group had two papers accepted to this great robotics conference; Kyle presented his master's thesis work on the design and control of the iTorqU 2.1, and Joe presented the methods he developed for modeling haptic textures from recorded acceleration signals.
The left-hand photo above shows Kyle holding the iTorqU 2.1 after he gave his talk. Attendees had many good questions about this novel ungrounded torque feedback device. The right-hand photo above shows Joe giving an impromptu hands-on demonstration of his TexturePad system, which uses the algorithms from his paper to let the user of a tablet computer feel highly realistic textures. Both Kyle and Joe did a great job with their presentations, and it was a very interesting conference.
Today was the School of Engineering and Applied Science award ceremony and reception. Many great awards were bestowed on the faculty and students of SEAS, and it was great to see the Haptics Lab represented so well. Professor Kuchenbecker was honored to receive the Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising. Mallory Jensen, a graduating senior who worked in the lab last summer, received the Hugo Otto Wolf Award, which is given to the senior in each department who most meets with the approval of the faculty. And Dorsey Standish, a sophomore, was recognized for winning a Penn Undergraduate Research Mentorship award to support her research in the Haptics Lab last summer. A great showing by the Penn Haptics group! Congratulations to Professor Kuchenbecker, Mallory, and Dorsey.
Great news! Pulkit has passed his master's thesis defense! He gave a great talk about his research, and the committee was impressed with the work he did, specifically on engineering tactile feedback devices for motion guidance. He has a week or so to address their comments on the thesis itself, and then he will turn in the document and earn his degree! We all congratulate Pulkit on this great accomplishment.
We are happy to have hosted a visit from Dr. Karlin Bark today. Karlin earned her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University in 2009, working with Professor Mark Cutkosky on methods for using skin stretch for haptic feedback. Since graduation, Karlin has done an internship at Intuitive Surgical, Inc., and she is currently working at a medical device firm in California.
Karlin spent the whole day with us, starting with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and including a whole host of meetings with our research collaborators and other folks here in Penn engineering. In the afternoon, she gave a great research talk entitled "Rotational Skin Stretch for Wearable Haptics: A New Approach to Tactile Display." Afterward, she talked with Pulkit about his research for quite a while, as you can see in the photo above. Our tactile feedback for motion guidance project has several common themes with her own work, and it was fun to talk about future directions for research in this area. Overall, it was a great visit!
The University of Pennsylvania created a YouTube video about our lab's Tactile Gaming Vest! The video shows Dr. Kuchenbecker talking about the goals of the TGV project, Saurabh explaining how the vest's solenoids work, Ned commenting on how it feels, and two naive users trying it out. Unfortunately, the video doesn't show Eddie at all, but he's the one who actually sewed and wired most of the vest. It's great to see our lab's work getting such great publicity!
It's National Robotics Week! To celebrate, the GRASP Lab hosted a whole bunch of high school students for a tour and demo session. There were lots of great projects being shown up on the fourth floor of Levine; see the whole gallery of photos. To represent the Haptics Lab, Joe Romano gave a demo of our TexturePad system, which provides the feel of highly realistic virtual textures on the surface of a Wacom tablet, as you can see in the lovely photo at right. Many thanks to Joe and others who came out to demo and talk with the students!
The Penn Haptics Group is currently featured on the MEAM Department website! This is a shortened version of the article that recently appeared in the Alumni magazine of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. It's great to see our work (here, the iTorqU and the VerroTouch) getting shown off by the department.
Professor Kuchenbecker is out in California this weekend. She visited Intuitive Surgical, Inc. on Friday morning to give a talk and show a demonstration of our VerroTouch system, which adds high-frequency acceleration feedback to Intuitive's da Vinci surgical system. Then she spent Friday afternoon visiting robotics faculty and students at Stanford University, including demonstrations of our Haptography, VerroTouch , and StrokeSleeve projects. Today she took part in the Stanford Medical Innovation Conference on Medical Robotics, a unique student-run event that involved a wide array of companies, researchers, and professors from the field of medical robotics. She gave a half-hour talk on High-Fidelity Haptic Feedback for Robotic Surgery in the conference's Medical Innovation Forum, and she showed demos of our lab's Haptography TexturePad and VerroTouch systems during the hands-on demo session, as you can see above. Overall, it was a great weekend!
The Tactile Gaming Vest demo that we showed at Haptics Symposium has been getting a whole lot of media attention, including mentions on IEEE Spectrum, Wired, Make, Gizmodo, Slash Gear, Slashdot, and Ubergizmo. And this is not an April Fool's joke!
The Tactile Gaming Vest began as a student project in Professor Kuchenbecker's graduate-level class on haptic interfaces in spring of 2009. Saurabh Palan and Ruoyao Wang wanted to create a wearable haptic device to enhance movie watching and/or gaming. After discovering that TN Games makes a very cool 3rd Space Gaming Vest, they bought one and tried it out. By the end of the class, they had created a modified version of the TN Games vest that had all custom actuators (solenoids and Peltier elements) and custom software (a mod of Half-Life 2). During the 2009-2010 school year, Saurabh continued this project with assistance from Ned Naukam and Eddie Li. Together, they made a fully new vest that includes six solenoid actuators and vibration motors and can work with either our software or the TN Games software. Some more details about the project are available on Saurabh Palan's website. It was fun to demonstrate this project at the conference and to see all the excitement it created. Anyone interested in such a vest should certainly check out the TN Games 3rd Space Gaming Vest - the Tactile Gaming Vest our lab created is just a research prototype to explore new methods of delivering realistic haptic sensations. Their vest is a real commercial product that you can buy today and take home!
We're happy to hear that Professor Kuchenbecker has been awarded the Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising. This award is selected by the undergraduate engineering students and recognizes dedication to helping students realize their educational, career and personal goals.
This was the second day of Haptics Symposium - things were calmer because we didn't have any oral presentations, but our demos were still really busy. There were many interesting talks, and we all enjoyed trying out the demos being shown by other labs and companies. The conference concluded with an award ceremony where the were announced. We were delighted to hear that the Spatially Distributed Tactile Feedback for Kinesthetic Motion Guidance poster by Pulkit, Mallory, Laurel, Steve, and KJK was a finalist for Best Poster, though it did not win the award. You can see Pulkit and Mallory posing with a conference sign below, because they had already taken down their poster by the time KJK found them to take their picture.
The second piece of great news was that Joe Romano's teaser (short oral presentation) was selected for the Best Teaser award! This 45-second presentation was for Joe's hands-on demo, which was entitled Realistic Haptic Contacts and Textures for Tablet Computing and co-authored by KJK. There were 77 teasers presented at the conference, and the audience members all voted on their favorite. Thus, we are super proud that Joe was selected as the winner! His presentation was beautiful, informative, and funny. The prize is a RIM Blackberry, plus eternal bragging rights. The photo above shows Joe and KJK accepting their award. Very cool.
At the end of the day, we all went out to dinner at Stephanie's on Newbury Street in Boston. It was great to spend some time together celebrating all of our lab's hard work and recent successes. A big photo of our group at dinner is now posted on this website's About Us page.
Today was the first day of Haptics Symposium. Will gave the talk for his paper High Frequency Acceleration Feedback Significantly Increases the Realism of Haptically Rendered Textured Surfaces during the first oral session, and it was well received. You can see a picture of him presenting below.
Our lab also gave six teaser presentations to advertise our poster and our five hands-on demos. Our five demo stations were continually busy during the demo sessions, which is always a good thing. Here are photos of all five of our demos, plus a shot of the larger demo room where four of our demos were located.
In the order shown above, here's a list of all five of our demos: High-Frequency Tactile Feedback for the da Vinci Surgical System by Dorsey, Jamie, Will, Paul, and KJK; Realistic Haptic Contacts and Textures for Tablet Computing by Joe and KJK; The Haptic Board by Hao, Mohit, and KJK; Tactile Gaming Vest (TGV) by Saurabh, Ruoyao, Ned, Eddie, and KJK; and GPU-Based Haptic Rendering of 3D Smoke by Meng, Cynthia, Alla Safonova, and KJK. Finally, Pulkit, Mallory, and KJK presented their poster Spatially Distributed Tactile Feedback for Kinesthetic Motion Guidance.
The IEEE Haptics Symposium conference starts tonight. Fourteen people from our lab are attending, which is very exciting. We're taking five hands-on demonstrations, which adds up to a lot of equipment. Each one has a poster and a 45-second teaser presentation, in addition to the talk and poster associated with our two full papers. KJK is the co-chair of posters, demos, and exhibits, so she has been spending a lot of time getting everything ready. We're looking forward to a good conference!
KJK gave a technical workshop at the SWE Region E Conference today. Her presentation was entitled "Haptics: Touch Feedback for Robotic Surgery and More", and it was attended by about fifty women engineers, including undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals. There was a lot of excitement in the audience about haptics, with many people coming up to her afterward to ask questions about the field. Her workshop also received the most votes for favorite workshop at the conference. Very exciting!
Today was a great day for haptics at Penn. We had two haptics researchers on campus, as you can see in the photos below.
The first visitor was Will Provancher, an Assistant Professor from the University of Utah. He gave a fascinating GRASP seminar talk on "Haptic Guidance Systems", including his work on skin stretch cues and an active hand rest. There were lots of people in attendance, and they wouldn't stop asking questions about the work he was presenting. The other visitor was Bruce Mortimer, an engineer at Engineering Acoustics, Inc., the company that makes the C2 tactor, among many other interesting tactile feedback products. Both Will and Bruce brought hands-on demonstrations of their research, and we had a great time doing a demo session in our lab. We showed Will and Bruce several of the demos that we are going to be taking to Haptics Symposium, and it was very useful to hear their feedback on our work. Many thanks to both Will and Bruce for visiting the Penn Haptics Lab!
We used today's group meeting to practice all of our presentations for Haptics Symposium. Our lab has six 45-second-long teaser presentations (short orals to introduce posters and demos), plus one fifteen-minute talk. Practicing the teasers was stressful but a really good experience. We're trying to make them exciting and easy for the audience to understand. After those were out of the way, Will rehearsed his long oral presentation for the group, as you can see at the right. His paper is titled High Frequency Acceleration Feedback Significantly Increases the Realism of Haptically Rendered Textured Surfaces'', and it was co-authored by Joe, Amal, and KJK. Everyone gave comments to all the presenters, and it looks like we're going to have a really good showing at the conference. Good work!
David Lee gave a great talk entitled "Robotic Surgery: Past, Present, and Future" in today's GRASP seminar. David is Chief of the Division of Urology at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Surgery here at the University of Pennsylvania. He is collaborating with our lab on the VerroTouch project, and it was fascinating to see his ideas on where robotic surgery is heading in the coming years.
The speaker in today's MEAM seminar was Professor Cam Riviere from Carnegie Mellon University. Cam does a lot of great research on medical robotics, and his talk highlighted his Micron project, where they are developing microsurgical instruments that can cancel out the surgeon's hand tremor. Talking with Cam gave us lots of interesting ideas on other ways smart tools could help a surgeon, and we really appreciate the time he took to visit our lab.
Today KJK and Vinutha Kallem (post-doc in Vijay Kumar's group) gave a joint presentation at the Penn Medicine Clinical Simulation Center on the interface between haptics and clinical simulation. KJK gave an overview of our lab's work, and Vinutha presented her plans for a project on measuring the tool movements surgeons make during suturing. We hope to build a good collaboration with this great center!
KJK's NSF CAREER award was recently featured in an ASEE Prism Article highlighting the benefits of the stimulus (ARRA) funds. Our haptography work is funded by this grant, and Prism highlighted the potential for haptic feedback ("good vibrations") to improve robotic surgery and medical simulation. Very cool!
We were delighted to have Mr. George Reale join us for group meeting today. George is a locksmith for the University of Pennsylvania, and he is also a prolific inventor and entrepreneur. He regaled the group with stories of projects he has worked on, including MaxiForce traffic control bollards (now licensed to Blue Ember Technologies) and several assistive devices. He also gave great advice on what students should try to do to improve their design and innovation skills. After the larger group meeting, George spent some time talking with individual students about their projects, including Pedro, as shown at right. It was great to have George join us for this meeting, and we look forward to finding ways to involve him in our work in the future.
Congratulations to the VerroTouch and Haptography teams on submitting papers to EuroHaptics yesterday. This haptics-focused conference will occur in Amsterdam in July, and it would be a great forum for our research. Here are the authors and titles for the two papers that went in:
Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, Jamie Gewirtz, William McMahan, Dorsey Standish, Paul Martin, Jonathan Bohren, Pierre J. Mendoza, and David I. Lee. VerroTouch: High-Frequency Acceleration Feedback for Telerobotic Surgery
Nils Landin, Joseph M. Romano, William McMahan, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Dimensional Reduction of High-Frequency Accelerations for Haptic Rendering
Both teams put in a lot of work (and late nights) on these papers, and it was great to see them come out so well. Great work!
January 5, 2010
The Fall 2009 issue of the Penn Engineering magazine contains a great article about our research group. It's entitled Haptics at Penn: A Class of Touch, and it starts on page 18 of the magazine. The article mostly features Jamie Gewirtz and the VerroTouch project, though it's relevant to all the work that we do. Way to go, Team Kuchenbecker!
January 1, 2010
We heard today that both of our lab's ICRA papers were accepted. The first paper is Joe's work on modeling the acceleration waveforms that occur during tool-mediated texture exploration, and the second is Kyle, Joe, and Jamie's work on the final version of the iTorqU. The ICRA acceptance rate was just 41% this year, so it's an especially good accomplishment for our lab to have two papers get in. Congratulations to all of the authors! It's great to know that the Penn Haptics Group will be well represented in Anchorage this May.
December 18, 2009
A group from the lab went to lunch together today to celebrate the end of the semester. We went to Pod and ate lots of delicious food, including Kobe beef burgers and grilled sea bass. Yum. In addition to celebrating our lab's recent successes, we used this lunch to say goodbye to Nils Landin. He has finished his year at Penn and will be returning to Sweden at the end of December. We are really going to miss him!
December 11, 2009
Penn hosted the 50 Years in Robotics Event today, including many great talks by robotics researchers from around the world. One of the highlights was a talk on medical robotics by Allison Okamura.
The program also included a GRASP Lab Open House, and our group presented three hands-on demonstrations with two posters, all centered on our haptography project. Jamie, Dorsey, Joe, and Will did a great job showing off their work, and several people told KJK how much they enjoyed the demos - very compelling!
December 10, 2009
Dorsey was featured in a Penn Admissions video this summer, and they filmed her in the lab. She even mentions us in her discussion of what she likes about Penn! You can see the video by clicking here. Click the photos on the right until you see Dorsey. Then wait for her movie to load. Very cool!
December 1, 2009
Great news! Both of our full-length research papers were accepted to the 2010 IEEE Haptics Symposium Conference. Pulkit and Mallory's paper on tactile feedback for motion guidance got a poster presentation, which will be a great way to showcase this system. And Will, Joe, and Amal's paper on the realism of high-frequency acceleration feedback was given an oral presentation; this paper was accompanied by a movie that Anat created. The overall acceptance rate for this conference was 66%, and oral presentations were particularly prestigious, with just 30% of the submissions receiving this honor. Let's all congratulate Pulkit, Mallory, Will, Joe, Amal, and Anat on their excellent accomplishments! It's going to be a great conference to attend.
November 30, 2009
Ned Naukam, one of our undergraduate researchers, gave a presentation in group meeting today. He talked about the work he's been doing to model the electrical and mechanical dynamics of a solenoid used to deliver tactile feedback. He showed the structure of the model he is using, plus data he has collected for correlating solenoid force output to applied current and plunger position. At the end, the group talked about methods for collecting data that can be used to tune the rest of his model's parameters. Great job, Ned!
November 29, 2009
A few weeks ago, KJK was interviewed by Joe Calamia, a student in the MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing. He wrote an article about the use of vibrotactile suits for human motor learning, focused on the suit created by Lieberman and Breazeal at MIT.
It is exciting to see the number of groups working on projects in this area, in addition to our lab's own NSF project on this topic. And it's great to have this research highlighted by the MIT Science Writing program! Many thanks to Joe for writing such a good article.
November 20, 2009
Professor Kuchenbecker spent today in Waltham, Massachusetts, which is outside of Boston. She had two missions to accomplish: take a look at the Westin hotel and visit QinetiQ North America. The 2010 IEEE Haptics Symposium is going to be held at this Westin hotel in March. KJK is the co-chair of demos, posters, and exhibits, so she needed to check out the various rooms they have available. As you can see in the photo at right, it looks like a great venue for a conference. KJK's visit to the Technology Solutions Group at QinetiQ also went really well. She gave a research talk entitled "High-Fidelity Haptic Interfaces for Real, Remote, and Virtual Environments," and she got a tour of the company's facilities, including the area where they manufacture and test Talon robots. Very cool!
November 7, 2009
KJK is in Lecco, Italy, attending the IEEE International Workshop on Haptic Audio-Visual Environments and Games (HAVE). She's there to present a paper entitled "GPU Methods for Real-Time Haptic Interaction with 3D Fluids," which she co-authored with Meng Yang, Cynthia Lu, and Alla Safonova. The keynote speech at the conference was given by Professor Eckehard Steinbach from TU Münchich. He presented his work on data reduction methods in networked haptic systems. The photo at right shows him summarizing the ideas of event-based haptics, which KJK worked on when she was a PhD student. Dr. Steinbach's group is using ideas from event-based haptics to reduce the data load in networked haptic systems.
October 23, 2009
A group of us (Will, Dorsey, KJK, Jamie, and Paul) went over to Presbyterian Medical Center today to work on one of our surgical projects. Though we had to wait for quite a while for the OR to be free, we had a good time and learned a lot. Plus, we got to wear cool bunny suits and scrubs. Many thanks to Pierre Mendoza for hosting us!
October 16, 2009
The leaking pipe has been fixed! After the furniture was disassembled, a whole bunch of facilities workers came by to replace the damaged section of pipe. You can see our nice new pipe in the left image below, and the right image shows the resulting chaos in the rest of the lab.
They had to shut off the building water for several hours in order to get this new pipe installed. Afterward, the lab carpet got cleaned up, the furniture got put back together, and we moved back in. Phew. Let's hope that pipe never starts leaking again.
October 13, 2009
Jamie, Mallory, and Ned all noticed a suspicious dripping sound in the lab today. That's never a good thing. It turns out that the pipe that runs along the back wall is leaking, which is making the carpet progressively wetter in the back right corner. Jamie heroically climbed behind the wall to move some junk that was getting wet, and he put our recycling bins there to catch the water, as you can see in the left photo below.
Operations checked out the leak, and they believe they need to replace a twenty-foot (6.096 meter) section of pipe. Thus, they need to disassemble and move all of our desks. As you can see in the above right photograph, Ian, Jacob, Mallory, PK, and KJK spent a bunch of time this afternoon moving all of our worldly belongings off of the furniture. AOE is coming tomorrow at 7am to do the disassembly. We are hoping the plumbers will be done by midnight on Wednesday. Then they'll shampoo the carpet and put all our furniture back. Things should (hopefully) be back to normal by the end of business on Friday.
All things considered, we're thankful this didn't happen before the Haptics Symposium deadline.
October 5, 2009
The lab has been very busy recently, as we've been writing two full-length research papers for the 2010 IEEE Haptics Symposium Conference. The photo at right shows the authors putting the finishing touches on their submissions on the night of the deadline. Here is the information for the papers we submitted:
Pulkit Kapur, Mallory Jensen, Laurel J. Buxbaum, Steven A. Jax, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Spatially Distributed Tactile Feedback for Kinesthetic Motion Guidance.
William McMahan, Joseph M. Romano, Amal M. Abdul Rahuman, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. High Frequency Acceleration Feedback Significantly Increases the Realism of Haptically Rendered Textured Surfaces.
The second paper was accompanied by a three-minute-long video that Anat Bordoley put together to explain the purpose of the paper and its findings. Let's all congratulate Pulkit, Mallory, Will, Joe, Amal, and Anat on their excellent accomplishments!
September 26, 2009
The Haptics Group Barbecue (Hapticue) was today! We held it at Jamie and Elizabeth's lovely house, and a whole bunch of people from the lab attended, including current members, alumni, friends, and family.
On the recommendation of Jamie, Elizabeth, Joe, and Will, we got the food from Abner's Barbecue in Jenkintown. We picked their Big Belly Filler catering package, which includes Memphis style dry-rub ribs, barbecued chicken, beef brisket, baked beans, mashed sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, cornbread, and rolls. It was even more delicious than they had said it would be, and we had more than enough food to go around.
We set up a bunch of different games in the backyard and also gathered around a fire in the Haptics Group's new fire pit, keeping ourselves warm and toasting marshmallows for s'mores. Yum! Though we constructed a tent by the fire, rain eventually forced us indoors, where we kept ourselves busy by playing The Beatles: Rock Band. KJK's favorite song was "I Want To Hold Your Hand" - very haptic! Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the event! It was great to have everyone together to celebrate our group's success.
September 22, 2009
Today was the MEAM Department picnic. It took place in Quain Courtyard and included good food and good company. Most people from the lab attended and enjoyed the lovely sunshine. Olivia Brubaker also posted a gallery of photos from the event for everyone to enjoy. The photo at right is one of the ones that Olivia took; it shows Professor Kuchenbecker, Mallory, Pulkit, and Professor Fiene.
September 18, 2009
On Wednesday, Jamie Gewirtz presented a medical robotics/haptics project for consideration for the semester-long class project in his EAS 546 class on Engineering Entrepreneurship. The idea relates to Jamie's research work on the da Vinci surgical system by Intuitive Surgical, Inc., and it's very exciting. The class voted on all of the presented projects by selecting whom they would fund, and Jamie's proposal came out as one of the best five ideas. Having his idea chosen for the class means that Jamie and three other students will spend this semester investigating the idea and putting together a business plan around it. Very cool!
September 16, 2009
Let's all congratulate Joe, Kyle, and Jamie on getting their ICRA 2010 papers submitted last night. Here are the two papers we submitted:
Joseph M. Romano, Takashi Yoshioka, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Automatic Filter Design for Synthesis of Haptic Textures from Recorded Acceleration Data.
Kyle N. Winfree, Joseph M. Romano, Jamie Gewirtz, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Control of a High Fidelity Ungrounded Torque Feedback Device: The iTorqU 2.1.
The first paper is Joe's texture modeling work in collaboration with Takashi Yoshioka at JHU, and the second is a condensed version of Kyle's robotics master's thesis work on the iTorqU. These papers will be reviewed in the coming months, and if they are accepted, we will have the chance to present the research at the conference, which will take place in Anchorage, Alaska, next May. Great work by everyone! Next up - the Haptics Symposium deadline on October 5....
September 11, 2009
More good news! Our flexible tool force sensing paper has been accepted to the IASTED International Conference on Robotics and Applications (RA), which will be held November 4-6, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The authors are Quentin J. Lindsey, Neil A. Tenenholtz, David I. Lee, and KJK, and the title is "Image-Enabled Force Feedback for Robotic Teleoperation of a Flexible Surgical Tool." This work started as an independent study and a project in KJK's haptics class in spring of 2008. Congratulations to Quentin and Neil for a job well done!
September 4, 2009
KJK just got back from the International Symposium on Robotics Research (ISRR) in Switzerland. This is an excellent single-track conference that brings together great robotics researchers from around the world. There were only 92 attendees, most of whom were faculty, and the quality of the presentations and discussions was very high. Professor Kuchenbecker presented an invited paper entitled "Haptography: Capturing and Recreating the Rich Feel of Real Surfaces," which she coauthored with Joe and Will. One of the best aspects of the conference was that the session chairs had all read the papers in their session. They then started the session off by presenting a ten minute overview of the field and explaining how they thought each of the upcoming presentations fit into that overview. Another great benefit was the lovely location in Luzern, Switzerland. Overall, it was a fascinating conference to attend. We should definitely submit a paper to ISRR in 2011!
August 24, 2009
Good news! Our haptic fluid simulation paper has been accepted to the International Workshop on Haptic Audio-Visual Environments and Games (HAVE 2009). The authors are Meng Yang, Cynthia Lu, Alla Safonova, and KJK, and the title is "GPU Methods for Real-Time Haptic Interaction with 3D Fluids." This work started as a joint class project between Alla's physics-based modeling class and KJK's haptics class in spring of 2008. It will great to be able to attend this nice conference and present some of our work.
August 16, 2009
The HVAC system in the lab is getting renovated over the next two weeks! They are installing a noise attenuator, reconfiguring the vents, and moving the thermostat. We are really hopeful that these changes will make the lab a quieter and more comfortable place to work. In preparation, we had to remove all of our equipment from the desks under the vents and from all the shelves behind the whiteboard.
A group of us came in today (Sunday) to do all this pre-renovation clean up, and we went out to dinner at the Blockley Pourhouse when we finished. The desks, whiteboard, and shelves are all getting disassembled tomorrow to give the workers access to the HVAC system, and demolition starts on Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed that the renovation goes well!
August 4, 2009
A group of students from our lab went over to the Penn Presbyterian Hospital today to learn more about the Intuitive da Vinci Surgical System. As you can see in the picture at right, we had to wear white "bunny suits" and blue bonnets in order to enter the operating room. Dr. Lee and his assistant Michelle showed us how the robot works and let each of us try it out ourselves. Very cool.
July 28, 2009
Today we gave a lab tour to ten local high school students who are on campus for Penn's IT and Robotics Summer Mentorship Program. Professor Kuchenbecker gave an overview of the research our lab does and introduced six different hands-on demos. The visitors and their three counselors then rotated around the lab in small groups and had the opportunity to try out all the demonstrations, asking questions of the students in the lab as they went. Many thanks to Jamie, Ruoyao, Will, Mallory, Pulkit, and Joe for helping out!
July 24, 2009
KJK gave another version of her Haptography talk today as a Master Lecture in the SAAST summer program. This is Penn's Summer Academy in Applied Science and Technology for high school students, and it offers concentrations in Biotechnology, Computer Graphics, Computer Science, Nanotechnology, and Robotics. There were over 100 students there, and they really enjoyed the hands-on demos afterward (until a metal tool fell into the power supply, shorted it out, and caused a small explosion, which killed the power supply and ended the demonstration session.)
July 15, 2009
Today Professor Kuchenbecker gave a public lecture at Penn entitled "Haptography: Creating Authentic Haptic Feedback from Recordings of Real Interactions." This is the same talk she gave on July 1 at the RSS Conference in Seattle, including an overview of her vision for haptography, haptic photography. All of the students in the haptics lab attended the talk, along with many students and faculty from across the Penn campus. It was great to get such a diverse group together to talk about this research project and test out the associated hands-on demonstrations.
This talk was recorded. If you want to see it, just just email Professor Kuchenbecker, and she will loan or send you a CD.
July 1, 2009
Professor Kuchenbecker has spent the last several days at the Robotics: Science and Systems Conference in Seattle, Washington. The conference took place at the University of Washington, which has a truly beautiful campus, and it was a great meeting.
There was a very informative Sunday workshop on Understanding the Human Hand for Advancing Robotic Manipulation with many fascinating talks, and the tour of the UW robotics labs (especially those of Blake Hannaford and Yoky Matsuoka) was fabulous. The main part of the conference was single track, with excellent keynote addresses plus a poster session.
KJK gave the Early Career Spotlight Talk on Wednesday, July 1, which is an invited talk for a young professor. Her presentation was entitled Haptography: Creating Authentic Haptic Feedback from Recordings of Real Interactions, and she also did hands-on demonstrations of haptographic capturing and rendering systems during the poster session and immediately following her talk. Attendees really liked the idea of haptography, and KJK was honored to be able to share our research results to such a large audience in this venue.
June 25, 2009
The new website for Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) is running a story on some of our lab's research. Entitled "Healing Patients Through Robotics", it describes work we are doing to give the doctor a sense of touch during robot-assisted surgery. Cool! Here's the start of the article:
Haptic feedback, or the feeling of a surface through robotic technology, has many applications. For example, the virtual “click” of the newest Blackberry is a simple application of haptics, since users feel a button clicking that exists only in a virtual realm. In medical robotics, haptics allows surgeons to “feel” tissues and anatomy, even though they are controlling surgical robotic arms instead of being in direct contact with the patient. Research in haptics, led by Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, is enhancing and improving upon the function of current medical robots....
June 17, 2009
A program officer from the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently told Professor Kuchenbecker that they were considering reversing the funding decision on the CAREER grant proposal she submitted in July of 2008. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers grants for young professors who seek to excel in both education and research. KJK's proposal from 2008 was rated competitive but not initially funded, so it was wonderful to hear that it was being reconsidered due to the availability of stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009.
As of June 17, Fastlane shows that the proposal is now recommended for an award. Very exciting! We feel very lucky to be given this opportunity and are excited to be continuing our haptography research, now with the support of the NSF. Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science also ran a news article on this award when the school first heard of this funding development. Many thanks to everyone who has helped this become a reality!
June 15, 2009
The MEAM Graduate Group met today to discuss the qualifying exams of all of the first year PhD students. We are delighted to hear that Will passed his quals. His independent study project was entitled "Haptic Display of Realistic Tool Contact Via Dynamically Compensated Control of a Dedicated Actuator," and the picture to the right shows Will demonstrating his system to Mike Carchidi during the exam. Congratulations, Will!
In other good news, Will also recently heard that his IROS paper was accepted. The paper had the same title as his independent study report, and it gives preliminary approaches and results for our haptographic rendering project. The IROS acceptance rate was about 55%, and we are looking forward to attending the conference in October.
June 15, 2009
Yaroslav Tenzer visited the lab today and gave a great talk. He is a Ph.D. student in the Mechatronics in Medicine group at Imperial College London, and he works on improving the haptic fidelity of surgical simulators. His talk was entitled "Improving the Realism of Haptic Perceptions in Virtual Arthroscopy Training," and he showed some nice results on adding vibrotactile feedback to medical simulations and designing mechanisms for increased output impedance.
June 11, 2009
Today, a few lab members made a trip to Penn's medical research facility in Glenolden, where there is an Intuitive da Vinci system available for training.
We were able to run some tests and do some measurements on the system, which was a great opportunity. Many thanks to April, Aly, and Dr. Lee for facilitating this visit!
May 14, 2009
Joe and KJK are in Kobe, Japan, for ICRA this week, and the conference is going very well.
Joe gave his talk today, entitled "The AirWand: Design and Characterization of a Large-Workspace Haptic Device." This is the research he did for his MEAM qualifying examination in his first year at Penn. As you can see in the images above, the presentation room was packed, and Joe gave a very good talk. There were lots of interesting questions afterward, and people seemed quite interested in this new approach to providing haptic feedback in large virtual environments like the SIG Center for Computer Graphics we have here at Penn. Great work, Joe!
May 12, 2009
We have just been notified that the NSF plans to fund the small HCC proposal that KJK submitted in December 2008! This proposal was entitled "Modular Tactile Feedback for Whole-Body Motion Guidance," and it was inspired by our collaboration with Laurel Buxbaum, Steve Jax, and Amanda Dawson, who work with apraxic stroke patients at Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute. This three-year project will include the development of new modular tactors that can deliver rich vibratory stimuli to a variety of locations on the user's skin, plus tactile actuation patterns for spatially distributed tactors that can intuitively guide the wearer's body movements. Congratulations to the lab on this exciting funding award.
May 8, 2009
Joe just heard that he won a $300 travel grant from GAPSA, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly at the University of Pennsylvania. These funds will help support Joe's upcoming trip to Kobe, Japan, where he will be presenting his research on the AirWand. Congratulations Joe!
May 4, 2009
Today we had a great time visiting our sister lab at Johns Hopkins for Allison Okamura's Haptics Open House. We drove down there in two cars and joined her 530.651 class on Haptic Systems for a nice lunch.
We attended the JHU Haptics Open House, where Allison's students presented hands-on demonstrations of their semester-long projects. There were many cool demos, including a bone screw insertion simulator and an interactive museum exhibit that lets you bounce different size balls on different planets. After the open house, we were lucky to receive a lab tour from Dr. Takashi Yoshioka, with whom we are collaborating on a research project. It's great to have other haptics researchers so close by!
April 30, 2009
This year's Haptics Open House was from noon to 2pm today in the lab. Here is the flyer KJK used to advertise the event around the engineering school:
The students of the MEAM 625 class on Haptic Interfaces and several MEAM senior design teams demonstrated their projects to the public during this event. Attendees got to try out all of the following:
- Sculpt 3D shapes with a milling machine that follows your hand movements
- Play Half Life and really feel when and where your character gets shot
- Learn sign language with the assistance of a glove that guides your finger motions
- Control a virtual human arm exoskeleton with only your thoughts
- Discern the location of a spatial vibrotactile cue from a novel handheld device
- Feel what the surgical tools are touching during robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery
- Track a desired arm trajectory guided only by skin stretch feedback on your wrist
- Explore 2D images in 3D through an array of 900 movable pins designed for the blind
- Try out the FatPoodle, a foot pedal that provides four axes of motion input into a computer
- Interact with ROGER, the Rapidly Orienting Green-Eyed Robot who watches your every move
Jimmy Sastra, Peter Blacksberg, and Professor Kuchenbecker all took photographs during the event; their best images have been posted in a password-protected gallery for you to explore. Contact Professor Kuchenbecker for the password. A sampling of photos appears below.
The lab was packed for the entire duration of the Open House, and there was a line for every hands-on demonstration. Attendees included students, faculty, and staff from Penn, plus lots of people from the surrounding community. Attendees all agreed that the projects were fabulous and lots of fun to try out. Great work by everyone, especially the students!
We were also privileged to be visited by Allison Okamura and a bunch of her haptics students from Johns Hopkins University, as you can see in the above-right image. They attended the whole open house and gave us lots of great feedback and ideas on our projects.
April 25, 2009
This morning several members of the lab attended an IEEE short course taught by Dr. Ralph Hollis, a professor in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. The workshop was entitled "Magnetic Actuators for Robotic Systems," and it was held at the Sheraton Hotel in University City.
Ralph presented four hour-long modules on the design of magnetic actuators, his minifactory project, haptics and teleoperation, and future research. It was a fascinating, information-filled course that included many great stories from Ralph's long and successful careers at IBM and CMU. The highlights were probably seeing all the wonderful magnetically actuated devices he brought along for show and tell and watching the time-lapse video he made to showcase the manufacturing process for the tiles for his minifactory floor.
April 23, 2009
Unbeknownst to us, Tuesday was Jamie's birthday. Happy birthday, Jamie! We celebrated today at lab meeting with some delicious cupcakes and nudos from Naked Chocolate Cafe, which Joe and Kyle were kind enough to get for the group.
Although it wasn't planned this way, KJK also had a birthday present to support Jamie's work in the lab. As you can see in the photos above, she bought english and metric assortments of stainless steel socket head cap screws for us to use in the lab. Now Jamie doesn't have to steal fasteners from the ModLab. What a great birthday present!
April 22, 2009
Today was RoboFest: A Celebration of Robotics at the GRASP Laboratory at Penn. RoboFest was organized as a Symposium and Open House honoring Ruzena Bajcsy, the GRASP Lab founder and Recipient of the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computers and Cognitive Science.
There was a great schedule of speakers, including Peter Allen, Allison Okamura (above left), Anthony Hoogs, Henrik Christiansen, Oussama Khatib, Pradeep Khosla, Henry Fuchs, and Ruzena Bajczy herself (above right). The midday break included posters and demonstrations by GRASP researchers. As you can see in the photos below, we showed the same four demos we took to World Haptics, and they were very well received. Even more photos are available in the password-protected Haptics Lab Highlights photo gallery. Good work by everyone!
April 17, 2009
The final presentations for MEAM senior design projects were today. There were three teams doing projects related to the Haptics Lab, and all did a great job! As shown in the below left photo, David Argudo, Haresh Tilani, Sameer Kirtane, and Amal Rahuman did a project called "Tactile Vision: Developing a Continuous, Refreshable, Tactile Display." Their proof-of-concept prototype has a 30 by 30 matrix of 4-40 screws that are driven up and down by a mobile set of four actuators. They were mentored by Ms. Suzanne Erb and advised by Prof. Kuchenbecker.
The other team that was mentored by Suzanne Erb was Sumito Ahuja and Brian Hylton, who created the "Haptic Compass," a handheld device that allows a visually impaired individual to feel the direction of North to aid in navigation. Sumito and Brian are visible in the upper right photo, interacting with the lab's third project. Matt MacMillan, Travis Van Schoyck, and Kate Chovanetz created "ROGER: The Rapidly-Orienting Green-Eyed Robot" and were co-advised by Prof. Mark Yim and Prof. Kuchenbecker. You can see Roger and this team's poster in the above right photo; he moves his head and eyes to track faces, and he makes many different expressions in response to different visual stimuli. The lab was also very proud to hear that Matt, Travis, and Kate's project won the Couloucoundis Prize for the best presentation of a senior design project - a wonderful honor. Congratulations to all the seniors!
April 16, 2009
Today we were happy to be visited by Takashi Yoshioka, a neuroscience professor from Johns Hopkins University, along with his student Graham. Takashi studies the neural mechanisms that underlie tactile perception and object recognition, which is wonderfully synergistic with the haptographic capture and rendering research we are doing.
Takashi and Graham attended part of our group meeting, and each project team gave a short explanation of their project, along with a demo (if available). The visitors were quite excited by Will's teleoperation demo because it enables the user to feel the subtle intricacies of a surface without being in direct contact with it. The visitors enjoyed lunch at the Faculty Club with KJK, Will, and Joe, and continued their research conversations through the early afternoon. We are excited to be collaborating with Takashi's group because our combined sets of knowledge will enable us to study many interesting issues in texture perception and virtual surface creation.
April 3, 2009
The group enjoyed a visit and talk by Karon MacLean today. Karon is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia (UBC), she directs the Sensory Perception and Interaction (SPIN) Research Group, and she does lots of great research on haptically enabled user interfaces. She started off her day at Penn by joining in on the MEAM 625 Haptics class to discuss her upcoming IEEE Transactions on Haptics paper (which the class had all just read) that compares parametric knob dynamic models chosen by humans with those identified by the Haptic Camera. The class really enjoyed having one of the authors present to provide context for the work and help explain relevant issues.
At 11 a.m., Karon gave a talk the GRASP seminar series. Her presentation was entitled Haptic Communication: from Abstract to Affect, and it covered general motivation for her work, haptic icons, and the haptic creature. There was good interaction with the audience during the talk, and she continued a lively discussion afterward over pizza. She spent the rest of the day meeting with other Penn faculty and hanging out in the Haptics Lab, feeling demos of our different projects and discussing the work with our students. Overall it was a great day!
April 1, 2009
In the spirit of April Fool's, one of our lab members updated the lab wiki's people page to include silly pictures of everyone except himself. Can you guess who it might have been from the screen shot at the right? These antics were discovered only a few minutes before a big lab celebration, so they provided ample excitement and laughter.
The lab party in the evening was arranged by Will, Pulkit, and Joe to give everyone the opportunity to celebrate our lab's good showing and Will's Best Demo award at World Haptics. The theme for the event was "Indian Heritage Night" - we went over to Wu and Chen, dined on delicious Indian food from Rice and Spice, and enjoyed watching "The Namesake" movie. Pulkit wore traditional Indian garb and was responsible for picking out the food and the movie.
Adding to the fun, Joe came dressed up as a native American, and Ben Cohen impersonated Indiana Jones. Congratulations again to Will for winning Best Demo - we appreciate his generosity to share some of his winnings with us in this way. Joe and PK also contributed a lot to planning and supporting the event, and it was a lot of fun. Next time, will it be "New Jersey Heritage Night" or "California Heritage Night"? We'll have to wait and see.
March 20, 2009
Will McMahan and KJK won the "Best Demonstration" award at the World Haptics Conference! The demo was entitled "Displaying Realistic Contact Accelerations Via a Dedicated Vibration Actuator," and it let participants touch a variety of surfaces through two different teleoperation controllers. The goal was to let the user feel the difference between a standard position-position controller and this same controller plus high-frequency contact vibrations, which are created by a dedicated actuator to match the accelerations experienced by the slave tool.
This award comes with a $1000 honorarium and is sponsored by Moog. Congratulations to Will! This is a wonderful accomplishment for him and for the lab.
March 20, 2009
Today was the last day of the 2009 World Haptics Conference. There were many more good talks, and KJK co-chaired a session on Haptic Modeling and Rendering.
Pulkit and Sunthar continued running their hands-on demo on the use of vibrotactile feedback for guiding arm motions, and Will continued running his demo on realistic contact accelerations. Both of these demos, along with the SlipGlove and iTorqU demos that were still running, were very well received. Great work by everyone!!! A full password-protected gallery of photos from the conference is available here.
March 19, 2009
The World Haptics Conference is going really well so far. Joe and Kyle gave their two-minute poster teasers today, and the SlipGlove and iTorqU demos were running all day, with lots of hard work by Steve, Nathan, Joe, Jamie, and Kyle.
It's great to be seeing all the new research here and sharing our work with others. We also had a great time at the conference banquet tonight. A full password-protected gallery of photos from the conference is available here.
March 18, 2009
Today was the first day of the conference. There were a lot of great talks, and Netta Gurari gave the two-minute teaser for her poster, which has Allison Okamura and KJK as co-authors.
At the end of the day, all the Penn hapticians went out to dinner at Squatters Pub and Brewery. It was good to share a meal together and celebrate all the hard work that got us here.
A full password-protected gallery of photos from the conference is available here.
March 17, 2009
All ten of the Penn Haptics Group members who are going to the World Haptics Conference are now in Salt Lake City. We brought all the equipment needed for our four hands-on demonstrations, and everything seems to have arrived safely.
We had a fun time visiting the University of Utah for tours of their robotics labs and attending the conference's opening reception. A full password-protected gallery of photos from the conference is available here.
March 11, 2009
To commemorate our upcoming trip to the IEEE World Haptics Conference, KJK had t-shirts made for everyone in the lab. As shown in the below photo, they are cardinal red and are discharge printed with "Penn Haptics" on the front and "GRASP Laboratory" on the back.
Kyle helped some with the graphics, and several other members of the lab offered opinions on the design. The shirts were printed by Stuart Brent of Vacord Screen Printing in Powelton Village, a short bike ride from campus. He did them for a very reasonable price in two days with no set-up fee and no rush charge. Cool. We'll be wearing them in Salt Lake City.
March 10, 2009
More great news! Joe Romano won the Fall 2008 Outstanding TA Award for the MEAM Department!
Joe was the TA for MEAM 410/510: Mechatronics, and he won this award for the initiative, enthusiasm, and dependability he brought to his work. Dr. Jonathan Fiene was the professor for the course, and he was responsible for nominating Joe for the award, which comes with a cash prize of $500. Dr. Pedro Ponte announced the award today at the MEAM Coffee Time, and the whole department celebrated Joe's great work. Congratulations, Joe!
March 10, 2009
Great news! Joe Romano won an NSF travel grant to support his participation in the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). Joe is the first author of The AirWand: Design and Characterization of a Large-Workspace Haptic Device, and he will be going to Kobe, Japan, in May to present this paper. The travel grant will completely fund his roundtrip airfare (approximately $1000) and provide $500 to support two days of visits to Japanese research labs studying robotics. Congratulations, Joe! As a new lab, we very much appreciate this support.
March 6, 2009
Today was Will McMahan's birthday! Joe Romano got him a cake, and we surprised him in the lab after GRASP pizza.
Jonathan Fiene lit the candles with a MAP gas torch, and Will succeeded at blowing them all out on the first try. Happy Birthday Will!
March 6, 2009
Professor Kuchenbecker and the iTorqU 2.0 were featured on the back cover of this month's Pennsylvania Gazette, Penn's alumni magazine.
This advertisement seeks to highlight the importance of endowed assistant professor positions like the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation position that KJK holds. In the online version of the magazine, you can see the add by selecting "Cover 4" from the drop-down menu at the top. Unfortunately, the text of the advertisement doesn't explain anything about the project, so here are some details:
The iTorqU is an ungrounded haptic interface we designed to exert controlled torques on the user's hand. It produces these torques using the gyroscopic effect, where a quickly spinning flywheel is steered in different directions. We envision it being useful for applications such as immersive gaming, upper-limb rehabilitation, and remote control of aerial vehicles.
The idea for the iTorqU came from Kyle Winfree, Jamie Gewirtz, and Bill Mather, who all took KJK's MEAM 625 class on Haptics in Spring of 2008. Kyle and Jamie are Robotics masters students, and Bill is a Ph.D. student in Mark Yim's lab. They created an initial 1-dof prototype that semester, and they worked (very hard) over the summer to create the 2-dof version you can see in the Gazette picture.
Since then, Jonathan Fiene and Joe Romano have both contributed significantly to the project; Jonathan is a lecturer in MEAM, and Joe is one of KJK's Ph.D. students. We are presenting a paper on this project, along with a hands-on demo, at the IEEE World Haptics Conference in Salt Lake City later this month.
Congratulations to the students on their beautiful device!
March 5, 2009
Today the lab enjoyed a visit from Professor Jaydev Desai. Dr. Desai earned his Ph.D. here at Penn as a student with Vijay Kumar, and he is now an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park.
Dr. Desai joined the group for lab meeting and heard short descriptions of many of the projects in the lab. He got to try several demonstrations like the SlipGlove (pictured above), and he asked lots of good questions about our projects. Later in the day, Dr. Desai gave a talk in the MEAM seminar series entitled Image-guided Surgical Robotics: From Macro-scale to Meso-scale. It was great to have another haptics / medical robotics professor on campus, and we hope to build a good relationship with Dr. Desai's lab at the University of Maryland.
March 2, 2009
If you've been around the lab lately, you surely noticed the flurry of activity in teleoperation research and paper writing. Congratulations to Quentin, Neil, and Will on their submissions to IROS 2009!
Quentin J. Lindsey, Neil A. Tenenholtz, David I. Lee, and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Image-Enabled Force Feedback for Robotic Teleoperation of a Flexible Surgical Tool. Submitted to IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent RObots and Systems, 2009.
William McMahan and Katherine J. Kuchenbecker. Haptic Display of Realistic Tool Contact Via Dynamically Compensated Control of a Dedicated Actuator. Submitted to IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent RObots and Systems, 2009.
February 27, 2009
The group received a tour of this new, 22,000 square-foot facility from Dr. Noel Williams, Dr. Kris Dumon, Dr. Mayank Mittal, and Daniel Hashimoto. We saw a wide range of technology currently being used for clinical simulation, including SimMan, laparoscopic box trainers, and a Mimic. There are many exciting possibilities for the use of technology (and more specifically haptics) in medical training and simulation.
February 25, 2009
Professor Kuchenbecker received some good news from Professor Ed Colgate, the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics journal. She was selected as one of three recipients of the 2008 Citation for Meritorious Service in recognition of her work as a reviewer for the journal. This award will be announced on the ToH website as well as in the next issue of 2009, and she will be receiving a printed certificate. Congratulations!
February 20, 2009
Today included two great events. On the research side, we were happy to be visited by Dr. David I. Lee, a urological surgeon at Penn's Presbyterian Hospital. He talked with a group of students about robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery.
On the fun side, Professor Kuchenbecker participated in the annual "Pie Your Professor" event, where students can donate a small amount to charity to have the privilege of throwing whipping-cream pies at members of the faculty. At least you get to wear a poncho!
February 16, 2009
A small group of lab members and haptics class students went out to the Glenolden Research Lab today. This facility has a Intuitive da Vinci Surgical System that is dedicated to training, rather than use on human patients. A password-protected gallery of photos from the trip is available here.
A general surgeon was learning how to use the system while we were there; it was interesting to talk with him about the system's ease of use. We also really enjoyed being able to test drive the da Vinci ourselves. It's a wonderful machine! Many thanks to Dr. David I. Lee, April Laskow, and the other Glenolden staff for facilitating this trip.
January 22, 2009
Joe and KJK spent most of this week at MMVR 2009, where Joe was presenting the needle puncture simulation he created for the final project in Alla Safonova's physics-based animation class. The conference was really interesting, and Joe and KJK got to meet many other people doing research in medical applications for haptics.
January 12, 2009
Pulkit and Will are spending this week at Johns Hopkins for a Winter School on Medical Robotics and Computer-Integrated Surgery. They are learning a whole lot and will even be taking a surgery for engineers course.
KJK also went down for a day-long celebration for the end of the ERC-CISST, where she was a postdoc with Allison Okamura from 2006 to 2007.
January 8, 2009
Professor Kuchenbecker spent today at the new Penn Medicine Clinical Simulation Center. She enjoyed meeting Dr. Mayank Mittal, seeing the facilities, and discussing possible research collaborations with Dr. Kris Dumon. In the afternoon, she got to participate in an abdominal aortic aneurysm simulation alongside two PGY-1 trainees (first year surgical residents), overseen by the Chief of Vascular Surgery at the Philadelphia VA.
The simulation took place in an authentic operating room - the entire SimCenter facility used to be the OR suite for Graduate Hospital. After donning scrubs and gloves, KJK was given the opportunity to rotate through as the scrub nurse, assistant surgeon, and surgeon. The team cut open the simulated aneurysm (distended fake rubber organ), though which was flowing simulated blood. They then attached a graft to the damaged tissue via suturing in three places.
January 7, 2009
Joe's AirWand paper was accepted to ICRA 2009. This means that he and Professor Kuchenbecker will be going to Kobe, Japan, in May. Congratulations Joe!