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697th Mita Public Speaking Event: "New technology transmits force: Envisioning future society with real-world haptics"

Update:Dec. 13, 2013

The 697th Mita Public Speaking Event, a longstanding Keio tradition, was held at the Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan) on December 9, 2013. In this installment, Professor Kohei Ohnishi lectured on the theme, "New technology transmits force: Envisioning future society with real-world haptics."

Originating from the Greek verb "haptesthai", which means "to touch", haptics refers to the discipline and technology which engineers tactile feedback by communicating, replicating, and visualizing the human sense of touch to later apply it in society.

Professor Ohnishi first introduced an overview of real-world haptic technology using the telephone and television as examples of remote transmission of sight and hearing, illustrating both the difficulties and possibilities of artificially recreating the five senses.

Professor Ohnishi then went on to demonstrate haptic technology which remotely communicates sense of touch using an instrument developed by him and students from his laboratory, a novel technology which individuals from the audience were invited to experience for themselves. When they moved an instrument lever in front of them, a fork attached to an instrument in a different location would move in a similar manner, striking against an apple. After moving the lever a few times, participants were soon able to adjust the amount of force of the fork; for example when participants put some muscle behind the lever, the remote fork stuck magnificently into the apple. Participants cried out in surprise as the tactile sensation of the fork stabbing into the apple was transmitted through the lever to their hand despite the distance.

Professor Ohnishi concluded his lecture stating that he strives in his daily research of real-world haptic technology for its further application in a wide range of areas, especially in medicine and agriculture.

Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan)
▲Mita Public Speaking Hall (Mita Enzetsu-kan)
Professor Kohei Ohnishi, Faculty of Science and Technology
▲Professor Kohei Ohnishi, Faculty of Science and Technology

Attendees experience real-world haptic technology firsthand
▲Attendees experience real-world haptic technology firsthand
Professor Ohnishi lectures to a full house
▲Professor Ohnishi lectures to a full house

Photos: Satoru Inoue