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Applied Bionics and Biomechanics
Volume 4 (2007), Issue 2, Pages 57-70

Toward Low-Cost Highly Portable Tactile Displays with Shape Memory Alloys

R. Velázquez,1 E. E. Pissaloux,1 M. Hafez,2 and J. Szewczyk1

1Université Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris 6, Laboratoire de Robotique de Paris, CNRS FRE 2507, 92265 Fontenay aux Roses, France
2CEA/LIST, 92265 Fontenay aux Roses, France

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper presents a new concept of low-cost, high-resolution, lightweight, compact and highly portable tactile display. The prototype consists of an array of 8 × 8 upward/downward independent moveable pins based on shape memory alloy (SMA) technology. Each tactile actuator consists of an antagonist arranged pair of miniature NiTi SMA helical springs capable of developing a 300 mN pull force at 1.5 Hz bandwidth by using simple forced-air convection. The proposed concept allows the development of 200 g weight tactile instruments of compact dimensions which can be easily carried by a visually disabled user. A detailed technical description of the SMA active element, tactile actuator and tactile display is presented and discussed. Preliminary perceptual results confirm the effectiveness of the display on information transmission.