Commercially available prosthetic hands do not convey any tactile information, forcing amputees to rely solely on visual attention. A promising solution to this problem is haptics, which could lead to new prostheses in which tactile information is conveyed between the amputee and the artificial limb. However, the haptic feedback must be optimized so that amputees can use it effectively; and although several studies have examined how specific haptic feedback systems can transmit certain types of tactile information, there has not yet been much research on the effects of superposing two or more types of feedback at the same location, which might prove to be more effective than using a single type of feedback alone. This paper investigates how the simultaneous application of two different types of haptic feedback—vibration and normal stress—impacts the human sensory perception of each separate feedback type. These stimuli were applied to glabrous skin on the forearms of 14 participants. Our experiments tested whether participants experienced more accurate sensory perception, compared to vibration or normal stress alone, when vibration was applied at the same time as the normal stress, at either the same location, or at a different location 6 cm away. Results indicate that although participants' perception of the normal stress diminished when vibration was applied at the same location, the same combination improved their perception of the vibration. Apparently, vibration has a negative impact upon the ability to perceive normal stress, whether applied at the same or a different location; whereas the opposite is true for the effect of normal stress upon the perception of vibration.

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