Northeastern University

Virtual, meet Reality

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I’ve written about Dagmar Sternad‘s work a few times, here and here and most recently here, when she had a bunch of middle schoolers come hang out in her lab for an afternoon. Her team uses robotic machines to capture data on simple movement tasks, such as carrying a cup of coffee or bouncing a ball. One of the biggest challenges in writing about Sternad’s work has been describing how these machines allow the team to transcend boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. So you can imagine my delight when Engadget came and videoed one of Sternad’s graduate students, Meghan Huber, demonstrating this very thing. The haptic ball-racket system provides tactile feedback to the user in such a way that it makes it feel like they’re actually bouncing a ball when they move a ping pong racket up and down, but indeed the ball lives inside the virtual world, where information about height and speed can be easily and accurately collected. Enjoy!

Cover photo by Jsome1 via Flickr.


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