Haptic sensing of virtual textiles

Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann and Ugo Bonanni


Simulating the appearance and dynamic behaviour of textiles and clothes has a number of applications in the movie and entertainment business, in the textile industry, or in the artistic garment design process. For these reasons, cloth simulation has become a popular topic in the computer graphics research community, and competition is constantly increasing. During the last two decades, textile animation and rendering techniques have dramatically improved, especially in the physical behaviour and visual realism areas [1] (see Fig. 1). The interaction modalities with cloth-like deformable surfaces, however, have not followed this evolution. The most widespread methods for handling virtual textiles are traditionally based on the use of a mouse and a keyboard. But the limits imposed by old-fashioned interaction technology decrease many opportunities, as humans, used to skin contact with clothing materials since prehistoric ages, strongly rely on their feeling of touch when handling textiles. important milestones in the domain of haptic rendering [2]. The proposed approach, however, did not take into consideration the physically-based, three-dimensional simulation and animation of deformable cloth surfaces. This was due to change with the advent of the HAPTEX Project [3].

The HAPTEX Project

The aim of the HAPTEX Project, a research initiative funded by the European Union, was to investigate how far we can go in providing the sense of touching three-dimensional, deformable virtual textiles. The target application scenario of the project is depicted in Figure 2. The HAPTEX researchers’ efforts resulted in a multimodal virtual reality (VR) system capable of rendering the sensation of stroking and manipulating a piece of three-dimensional digital fabric. The sense of touching virtual textiles was provided by a new generation haptic interface integrating kinaesthetic and tactile actuators.