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Friday, February 24, 2017

MOOC Develops Sense of Touch

A Stanford University professor created a massive open online course (MOOC) that teaches the science of touch, or haptics. Student use a Hapkit to build a programmable device to perform haptic experiments, providing a better understanding of the sense of touch.

“Haptic technology tries to make virtual experiences seem more real in order to improve how people perform tasks or enjoy virtual experiences,” Allison Okamura, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and designer of the course, said in an article for eCampus News.

The Hapkit includes a sensor, motor, and controller board that can be programmed with a personal computer to produce sensations, such as running your hand over a wall or the click of a ballpoint pen. A redesigned version of the Hapkit, which incorporates low-cost electronic components, uses 3-D printing, making it possible for anyone to download the files and print the kits.

“MOOCs are becoming really big, but are often missing that hands-on component,” said Tania Morimoto, a third-year Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering who worked with Okamura on the Hapkit. “Professor Okamura realized that haptics would be a good way to add that element. People learn in different ways, and having something physical can really help them understand.”

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