This paper presents a novel study on the simulation of material texture by means of electro-tactile stimuli and details the effects on the users’ ability to recognize and discriminate different material classes. The research exploits a novel tactile display to simulate material texture and validates the adopted simulation strategy by experimental testing. The tactile system elaborates data from real material samples and combines electrical stimuli and mechanical vibration to reproduce both roughness and texture coarseness sensations. Then, an experimental protocol based on the theory of Psychophysics is defined to carry out system calibration and tests with users. The research aims at validating the proposed simulation strategy and checking the user response on virtual tactile stimuli. Experimentations were carried out to reproduce virtual material texture and measure the users’ ability to distinguish different virtual materials and to recognize the material class. Experimental results provide interesting details about tactile perception mechanisms and validate the adopted approach for tactile signals’ recognition and material class discrimination.

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