Making a record of what we feel when we touch something

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Recently I saw a news item that discussed fingerprints and why we have them. It was thought they increased the sensitivity of our fingers to touch. A few days later I was thinking about this and made some observations. We can sense with our eyes and ears and nose. We can record and playback the things we see and hear. I worked as a developer for a time of flight mass spectrometer and that recorded data so I give it the nose job. What I could not think of is what do we have to make useful recordings of what our fingers feel. Any suggestions?
 

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Drakkith
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What I could not think of is what do we have to make useful recordings of what our fingers feel.
Yeah, I guess it's a bit difficult to make a variable texture device that includes things ranging from course and rough, to wet and slimy. Modifying the physical properties of an object is much harder than making a membrane oscillate or turning pixels on and off.
 
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Ygggdrasil
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There are scientific instruments that essentially work by the sense of "touch." For example, in atomic force microscopy, a small cantilever is scanned across a surface to "image" the topology of the surface (and whatever sample one has deposited on the surface). Of course, the resolution of an AFM is much higher than the resolution of our fingertips.
 
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russ_watters
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What I could not think of is what do we have to make useful recordings of what our fingers feel. Any suggestions?
It depends on what you mean by that. Blind people are said to be able to "see with their hands", which really means 3d modeling. We can record 3d models with lasers or photos.

If you mean texture, that to me is just a higher resolution 3d model, which I believe can be done with an electron microscope.
 
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BillTre
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Using your fingers to feel something actually involves a whole set of sensory inputs from different sensory receptors in the skin and related to moving the the fingers (this could involve inputs about muscle contract strength, joint position, or tendon strain.
These sensory inputs can then be assembled into higher order information about some aspect of the environment.

Among these could be:
  • Skin pressure
  • Temperature (hot or cold)
  • Slipperiness (surface traction of object being probed)
  • Give of surface of object being probed (squishiness?)
  • Texture (smooth or rough surface)
  • Weight if being hefted
  • Resistance to movement (through water or air for example)
  • Wetness of surface
  • Surface shape based upon "feel"
There are probably more kinds of information that can be obtained "touch" which I have missed.
The complexity of this kind of information will make a simple encoding of it difficult.
 
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Stephen Tashi
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Recently I saw a news item that discussed fingerprints and why we have them. It was thought they increased the sensitivity of our fingers to touch.
Skin ridges help you grip things.

For example, if you do a lot of bard-handed work with bricks or stones, you can wear down your fingerprints. Then, not only do things feel slick, they are slick. It becomes harder to do simple tasks like unscrewing lids on jars.
 

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