Tactile Telepresence for Isolated Patients (TTIP)

Technology #11610

Key Points

  • A tactile-visual system that provides an isolated patient (such as one with COVID-19) and remote visitors with a visual interaction augmented by touch
  • Gives the patient a perception of being touched, and the remote visitor a perception of touching the patient, such as stroking the patient's arm

Abstract

The University of Central Florida invention comprises tactile-visual systems and methods for social interactions between isolated patients (for example, those with COVID-19) and remote visitors such as loved ones, family members, friends, or volunteers. A primary goal is to provide the isolated patient and the remote visitors with a visual interaction augmented by touch—a perception of being touched for the isolated patient and a perception of touching for the remote visitors. For example, a loved one might be able to virtually stroke the patient’s arm or head, or even squeeze the patient’s hand. A simple realization might include tactile transducer “strips” placed on the patient, with two-way video via touch-sensitive tablets, where touching the visual image of the strips on the tablet results in tactile sensations on the patient’s skin.

A more sophisticated realization could use the Physical-Virtual Patient Bed (PVPB), developed under NSF Award #1564065, to serve as a remote physical, visual, and tactile surrogate for the isolated patient. The remote visitors would be able to see, hear, and touch the PVPB. The isolated patient would see the remote visitors via video and feel their touch interactions via the tactile transducer strips on their arms and head (for example). These interactive video, voice, and touch interactions could provide additional comfort for the isolated patient and the remote visitors. Further embodiments and enhancements include 3D depth and viewing for visitors and patients, with possible 3D free space interaction. For example, visitors wearing augmented reality head-mounted displays could reach out and touch a virtual version of the patient, and the patient would feel tactile sensations. The systems and methods are usable in any conditions giving rise to isolation, including isolation due to geographical distance.

Benefit

  • Visual-motor synchrony established by the family and patient (seeing, touching, stroking, or grasping behaviors), coupled with the synchronized sensation of touch, will engender a sense of touching/being touched that brings comfort to the patient and loved ones

Market Application

  • Medical systems
  • Smart device manufacturers