SwarmHaptics: Haptic Display with Swarm Robots

This paper seeks to better understand the use of haptic feedback in abstract, ubiquitous robotic interfaces. We introduce SwarmHaptics, a new type of haptic display using a swarm of small, wheeled robots. These robots move on a flat surface and apply haptic patterns to the user's hand, arm, or any other accessible body parts. We explore the design space of SwarmHaptics including individual and collective robot parameters, and demonstrate example scenarios including remote social touch using the Zooids platform. To gain insights into human perception, we applied haptic patterns with varying number of robots, force type, frequency, and amplitude and obtained user's perception in terms of emotion, urgency, and Human-Robot Interaction metrics. In a separate elicitation study, users generated a set of haptic patterns for social touch. The results from the two studies help inform how users perceive and generate haptic patterns with SwarmHaptics.