Experience handed across Net

July 16/23, 2003

Teaching the subtleties of a good golf swing or a precise surgical method electronically is just not the same as showing someone in person. But it's getting closer.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo have developed a method that enables one person to go through the exact movements of another, including feeling the same forces, over the Internet. The method could eventually be used to capture the touch of a musician, golfer or surgeon and pass it on to someone trying to match that touch, according to the researchers.

The system involves a glove that captures force and transmits it through the Internet to the receiver, who uses a combination of a sensing tool to feel the forces, and the act of following a point on a computer screen to recreate the movement of the other person's hand. The method differs from haptic techniques that allow users to feel the movement of another person's hand from the outside, or allow one user's hand to be pulled in the same direction as the other user's.

A practical system could be available within three years, according to the researchers. The researchers are scheduled to present the work at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) International Mechanical Engineering Congress in Washington in November, 2003.

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