In mechanical engineering, hardware mock-ups are increasingly being replaced by virtual models. Virtual environments enable the testing of different designs with considerable savings on time and money. Haptic feedback helps the user in getting a realistic conception about the cabin dimensions and how different controls actually look and feel. The haptic interface must be convenient to use and give realistic feedback on the functioning of the controls. The haptic force-feedback glove “SPM Glove” with soft pneumatic muscles — SPMs for short — on the palm side has been developed at the Department of Mechanics and Design at Tampere University of Technology. The glove provides force feedback to the thumb, index, and middle fingertips. In this paper, the usability of the SPM Glove for grasping, moving, and comparing the size of virtual objects is investigated. For achieving finger position information, the SPM Glove was worn over a data glove. Hand position was tracked with a magnetic tracker. The results indicate that users find manipulating cylindrical objects easier, more comfortable, and more natural with force feedback provided by the SPM Glove than without it. Moreover, all test users managed to arrange three invisible virtual cylinders of different sizes in order of increasing thickness using the SPM Glove.

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