Background Human sensorimotor control of dexterous manipulation relies on afferent sensory signals. Explicit tactile feedback is generally not available to prosthetic hand users, who have to rely on incidental information sources to partly close the control loop, resulting in suboptimal performance and manipulation difficulty. Recent studies on non-invasive supplementary sensory feedback indicated that time-discrete vibrational feedback delivered upon relevant mechanical events outperforms continuous tactile feedback. However, we hypothesize that continuous tactile feedback can be more effective in non-routine manipulation tasks (i.e., tasks where the grip force is modified reactively in response to the sensory feedback due to the unpredictable behavior of the manipulated object, such as picking and holding a virtual fragile object) if delivered to highly sensitive areas. We further hypothesize that this continuous tactile feedback is not necessary during all the duration of the manipulation task, since adaptation occurs. Methods We investigated the effectiveness of continuous tactile feedback in precision manipulation, together with a new sensory feedback policy, where the continuous tactile feedback is gradually removed when the grasp reaches a steady state (namely, transient tactile feedback). We carried out an experiment in a virtual-reality setting with custom tactile feedback devices, which can apply continuous pressure and vibrations, attached to the thumb and index finger. We enrolled 24 healthy participants and instructed them to pick and hold a fragile virtual cube without breaking it. We compared their manipulation performance when using four different sensory feedback methods, i.e., no tactile feedback, discrete vibrations, continuous tactile feedback, and transient tactile feedback. The latter consisted of gradually removing the continuous feedback in the static phase of the grasp. Results Continuous tactile feedback leads to a significantly larger number of successful trials than discrete vibrational cues and no feedback conditions, yet the gradual removal of the continuous feedback yields to comparable outcomes. Moreover, the participants preferred the continuous stimuli over the vibrational cues and the removal in the static phase did not significantly impact their appreciation of the continuous tactile feedback. Conclusions These results advocate for the use of continuous supplementary tactile feedback for fine manipulation control and indicate that it can seamlessly be removed in the static phase of the grasp, possibly due to the mechanism of sensory adaptation. This encourages the development of energy-efficient supplementary feedback devices for prosthetic and telemanipulation applications, where encumbrance and power consumption are burdensome constraints.
|Titolo:||Continuous supplementary tactile feedback can be applied (and then removed) to enhance precision manipulation|
CAPPELLO, Leonardo (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2020|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo su Rivista/Article|