Sibley School Seminar Series: Cara Mae Nunez - Engineering Touch: Design and Perception of Wearable Haptic Devices


The Cornell Sibley School Seminar Series will be held virtually for the Spring of 2021.


Engineering Touch: Design and Perception of Wearable Haptic Devices

Cara Mae Nunez

Ph.D. candidate in Bioengineering at Stanford University


Remote communications, training, and physical actions are now possible through a myriad of technologies. Most recently, this has enabled the rapid transition to fully remote workplaces and educational environments during COVID-19. However, the dependence on this technology during these times has also highlighted current limitations. While we have adapted to communicating through keyboards, mice, and touchscreens, these methods are unnatural and unsatisfying and extended use has led to physical and emotional exhaustion. Digital devices such as these only allow for communication through two sensory inputs: visual and auditory. Incorporating haptics as an additional channel for communication would engage the sense of touch to enhance the experience and augment information provided to the user. My research focuses precisely on this: developing haptic interfaces that can augment human interactions with various forms of advanced technology.

This talk will focus on the design of novel haptic devices and rendering algorithms to provide humans with touch information when communicating via a digital medium. I will present background on the sense of touch and some of the challenges involved in developing wearable haptic devices, and illustrate how I leveraged this knowledge to design devices that use haptic illusions to create sensations often felt during social communication. I will also highlight contributions I have made as well as ongoing and future work in developing human-centered haptic interfaces that can be used for improved human-robot interaction as well as for applications within the medical field, virtual communication, and education among many others.


Cara M. Nunez is a Ph.D. candidate in Bioengineering at Stanford University, Stanford, CA. She was a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Graduate Research Fellow in the Haptic Intelligence Department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart, Germany in 2019-2020. She received a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Stanford University in 2018, and a B.S. in biomedical engineering and a B.A. in Spanish as a part of the International Engineering Program from the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI in 2016. Her research interests include haptics and robotics, with a specific focus on haptic perception, cutaneous force feedback techniques, and wearable devices, for medical applications, human-robot interaction, virtual reality, and STEM education. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and the Student Activities Committee Chair for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.

Webinar Link

Open to the Engineering Community