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High Resolution Data-Driven Tactile Display for Sensory Substitution Devices


   Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering


About the Project

The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Bath is inviting applications for the following project, commencing October 2022, which is fully funded with a £5000 per annum stipend top-up from JonJu Tech Ltd. (subject to contract).

Project

The existing sensory substitution tactile devices have received minimal user acceptance among the Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) communities. This has been mainly caused by high manufacturing costs and psychophysical deficiencies of these devices such as low spatial resolution and limited actuation frequencie. At the University of Bath, we have developed a new award-winning actuator to increase the spatial resolution of vibrotactile display devices [1]. Our patented prototype converts the computer-generated electrical signals representing digitised image pixels to corresponding mechanical vibrations on tactile pixels (taxels). This PhD project will investigate interactive high-resolution tactile devices, which will significantly improve the success rate of tactile perception (https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/handheld-display-that-could-help-blind-people-perceive-information-through-touch-wins-award/).

For example, fingertip mechanoreceptors of different individuals feature varying threshold levels based on their age, gender etc. Therefore, certain level of tactile force that can be correctly perceived by one individual might be easily missed by the others, which substantial reduces the tactile perception accuracy. This PhD project will develop miniaturised integrated sensors to implement smart control systems for improving the perception accuracy. In addition, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms will be investigated to develop data driven controller for higher performance of the system by regulating the vibration level of taxels and improve the psychophysical aspects. Therefore, this PhD project will investigate:

  • Sensor-integrated tactile actuators for interactive display,
  • Monolithic fabrication of microactuators for reducing the manufacturing costs,
  • AI control algorithms for smart controllers that adjust the magnitude of tactile inputs

The PhD student will have access to the labs at Faculty of Engineering including Microsystems Research Lab (https://people.bath.ac.uk/am3151/) and REality and Virtual Environments Augmentation Labs (http://www.bath.ac.uk/reveal). The PhD student will travel to national and international conferences to present the results of this interdisciplinary research to stake holders.

This interdisciplinary project will be supervised by a team of active researchers from Departments of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science. The supervisory team will provide comprehensive training and expertise in tactile sensing systems, interface electronics, and neural networks-based control systems. 

Candidate Requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a First Class or good Upper Second Class Honours degree (or the equivalent). A master’s level qualification would also be advantageous.

Non-UK applicants must meet our English language entry requirement.

Enquiries and Applications

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be directed to Dr Ali Mohammadi -

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Electronic and Electrical Engineering

When completing the form, please identify your application as being for this URSA studentship project in Section 3 Finance (question 2) and quote the project title and lead supervisor’s name in the ‘Your research interests’ section. 

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website.

Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for funding, you must qualify as a Home student. The eligibility criteria for Home fee status are detailed and too complex to be summarised here in full; however, as a general guide, the following applicants will normally qualify subject to meeting residency requirements: UK nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), Irish nationals (living in the UK or EEA/Switzerland), those with Indefinite Leave to Remain and EU nationals with pre-settled or settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme). This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Additional information may be found on our fee status guidance webpage, on the GOV.UK website and on the UKCISA website.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

We value a diverse research environment and aim to be an inclusive university, where difference is celebrated and respected. We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups.

If you have circumstances that you feel we should be aware of that have affected your educational attainment, then please feel free to tell us about it in your application form. The best way to do this is a short paragraph at the end of your personal statement.

Keywords

Biomedical Engineering; Electrical Engineering; Electronic Engineering; Mechatronics; Robotics


Funding Notes

This project is fully funded by a University of Bath URSA studentship. This full funding covers tuition fees at the 'Home' rate, a £1000 per annum training support fee, and a tax-free stipend at the UKRI rate (£16,062 p/a in 2022/23). Subject to contractual agreements, this funding will also include a £5000 per annum stipend top-up sponsored by JonJu Tech Ltd.

References

[1] Ali Mohammadi, et al, “Resonance frequency selective electromagnetic actuation for high-resolution vibrotactile displays”, Sensors and Actuators A: Physical, Volume 302, 2020, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924424719315973.
[2] M. Proulx, A. Mohammadi, “ Electromagnetic actuation for a vibrotactile display: Assessing stimuli complexity and usability”, https://arxiv.org/abs/2105.13295

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