Haptic discrimination of distance

F.E. van Beek, W.M. Bergmann Tiest, A.M.L. Kappers

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    While quite some research has focussed on the accuracy of haptic perception of distance, information on the precision of haptic perception of distance is still scarce, particularly regarding distances perceived by making arm movements. In this study, eight conditions were measured to answer four main questions, which are: what is the influence of reference distance, movement axis, perceptual mode (active or passive) and stimulus type on the precision of this kind of distance perception? A discrimination experiment was performed with twelve participants. The participants were presented with two distances, using either a haptic device or a real stimulus. Participants compared the distances by moving their hand from a start to an end position. They were then asked to judge which of the distances was the longer, from which the discrimination threshold was determined for each participant and condition. The precision was influenced by reference distance. No effect of movement axis was found. The precision was higher for active than for passive movements and it was a bit lower for real stimuli than for rendered stimuli, but it was not affected by adding cutaneous information. Overall, the Weber fraction for the active perception of a distance of 25 or 35 cm was about 11% for all cardinal axes. The recorded position data suggest that participants, in order to be able to judge which distance was the longer, tried to produce similar speed profiles in both movements. This knowledge could be useful in the design of haptic devices. © 2014 van Beek et al.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere104769
    Number of pages9
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number8
    Early online date12 Aug 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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