Touch the future



Jade Boyd

Mike Williams


Masashi Nakatani

Touch the future

Get a feel for haptics technology at Houston symposium’s demo day Feb. 26 

HOUSTON – (Feb. 17, 2014) – What does the future feel like? A symposium that opens in downtown Houston this weekend will provide some answers.

At the IEEE Haptics Symposium chaired by Rice University scientist Marcia O’Malley, psychophysicists, engineers and designers from all over the world will demonstrate and discuss technologies that use rich interactions between humans and computers to enhance entertainment, education, health care and much more.

Many inventors, including faculty and students from Rice, will demonstrate their devices on media day, Wednesday, Feb. 26. Among the dozens of demos planned:

• A “what-you-feel-is-what-I-feel” device that transfers tactile sensations from one user to another.

The TPad

• A “TPad” watch that addresses the “fat-finger” problem users may experience with future smart watches.

• A “vibro-transmission” tactile display that could be expanded to cover one’s entire body.

• A test that uses the Oculus Rift head-mounted display to show how touch and vision can be fooled as to what’s hot and what’s cold.

• A robotic exoskeleton that streamlines the process of recovery for stroke and spinal cord-injury patients.

• A “haptic turk” that replaces motorized platforms and motors with human power for devices like flight simulators.

• A device to help hearing-impaired people experience music through vibration.

“This is the premiere conference for touch-interactions, and the hands-on demo sessions are a centerpiece of the event,” said O’Malley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and of computer science at Rice.

“Haptics, which refers to the sense of touch, is a difficult concept to explain in words. But we know that haptics enrich our interactions with the world around us, especially when those interactions are often with computing devices. We invite the media to come and experience state-of-the-art technology on display right here in Houston, and truly touch the future!”

Members of the media are invited to experience the future of haptic technology at a demonstration session Feb. 26. Attendees should arrive at 9:30 a.m. for an introduction to the demo area; demos will be available until noon.

Who:               Scientists, engineers representing research labs and K-12 students from Houston.

What:             The 2014 IEEE Haptics Symposium.

When:            Demonstration day is Wednesday, Feb. 26, 9:30 a.m. to noon. The symposium runs from Feb. 23 through 26.

Where:           The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Houston Downtown, 400 Dallas St.

Members of the news media who want to attend should RSVP to Mike Williams in Rice’s News and Media Relations Office at or 713-348-6728.


Details are available at the symposium website:

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6.3-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.