Development of a multi-species miniaturized tactile display



Develop a miniaturized device able to stimulate the skin at multiple length and time scales. This device will be based on an established technique aimed at creating sub-surface stain fields targeted at the cutaneous mechanoreceptors by modifying boundary condition of finger pads or of robotic tactile sensors in the tangential direction. The current system based on piezoelectric actuators has unique capabilities but is expensive, complex to commission and has intrinsic limitation on terms of spatial and temporal resolution. The project will also explore, with ESR1, the development of a 2-stage electromagnet device making it possible to adjust the spatial and temporal resolution to various targets.

Expected Results

A miniaturized device able to stimulate the skin at multiple length and time scales.


Host institution: Actronika

Enrolments (in Doctoral degree): University of Glasgow


Vincent Hayward, Henrik Jörntell

Presentation of ESR3

PhD defense: February 19th 2024

My namne is Yerkebulan Massalim. I received the B.Eng. in Electrical Engineering degree in 2017 and M.Sc in Roboitcs degree in 2020 from Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. I worked as a hardware engineer from 2017 to 2018 on several embedded systems projects. I’m currently a PhD student at Sorbonne University and works in the R&D department of Actronika, Paris. My research interests are haptics, tactile sensing, embedded systems, and machine learning.

Abstract of PhD goals

With the advance of e-commerce, consumer electronics, and virtual reality (VR) domains, there has been a great interest in haptic interfaces that can reproduce realistic tactile sensations and provide intuitive feedback. However, the existing tactile devices have limited capability, delivering only low fidelity vibratory feedback in most of the situations. In addition, limited knowledge of tactile sensing hinders the development of haptic interfaces that can provide realistic tactile sensations, requiring a lot of scientific and engineering work. The thesis work has a dual purpose. First, it addresses practical issues, that is, to design haptic displays that can provide intuitive and realistic haptic feedback with simple design. The work rests on designing distributed tactile displays that can provide complex spatiotemporal stimulation using simple yet elegant mechanical design. So, the display can be used in applications without complex hardware and precise engineering. Second, it has a scientific endeavor, that is, to investigate texture perception. This scientific part of the research is ranged around identifying invariances and essential cues that constitute the texture perception. Specifically, I studied the role of distributed tactile stimulation in texture perception and found that global characteristics of local skin displacements have behavioural importance. Distributed local displacements increase the perceived intensity and modulates roughness properties of virtual surfaces. Another important outcome of the work is an illusion of tactile slip. This illusion creates a robust sense of surface movement in the absence of the net movement. The manuscript describes all aspects of the thesis work, and chapters were arranged in a way that the reader can easily comprehend the work. My method was to have initial chapters that serve to present the context of the work and introduce the haptic displays developed in the thesis work. Then, subsequent chapters introduce the distributed tactile display and a robust illusion of tactile slip. The final part is about realistic tactile rendering using the distributed tactile display.


Analyse closed-form electro/thermal scaling laws for miniaturization. Realise computer aided-design based on the analysis and perform multi-physics simulation. Implement physical miniaturized system.

Journal Article – Upcoming
Massalim, Y.; Faux, D.; Jörntell, H.; Hayward, V
An Illusion of Tactile Slip

Journal Article
Massalim, Y.; Faux, D.; Hayward, V.
Distributed Tactile Display with Dual Array Design
IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 2023
DOI: 10.1109/TOH.2023.3254373