Virtual, meet Reality

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.