IIT and Pisa University developed award winning haptic technologies


Alessandro Altobelli, a former PhD student in robotic engineering at IIT and E. Piaggio Research Center in Pisa, is the winner of the EuroHaptics (EHS) Society PhD award for 2015 edition. 



The EuroHaptics Society recently assigned the best PhD thesis award to Alessandro Altobelli, who earned is PhD under the supervision of Antonio Bicchi working in Genoa and Pisa. Alessandro developed three-digit grasp devices which allow to measure the sinergistic control in human hand muscles when grasping objects with varying compliance using three fingers.

The results of the PhD research work represents an advancement in the understanding of the coordination patterns in the human hands human motor control. Up to now haptics interface research focused on the study of two fingers grasping of rigid objects. Altobelli realized tripod devices which allow to vary the pressure at the three contact points, so that one can simulate the grasping of objets of different rigidity and compliance. To measure measure the force and stiffness distribution across the three finger tips, the activity of the a dominant antagonistic pair of the forearm muscles has been monitored through electromyography.

This kind of devices represents a valuable tool to advance the state of art on human strategies in manipulation tasks and to assess rehabilitation procedures. Moreover they can be used to improve human robot interaction and control of myoelectric prosthesis. 

Further readings

PhD thesis: Development and validation of haptic devices for studies on human grasp and rehabilitation. Author: A. Altobelli.

22nd Mediterranean Conference of Control and Automation, 2014, 346 – 350, Three- digit grasp haptic device with variable contact stiffness for rehabilitation and human grasping studies. Authors: A. Altobelli, M. Bianchi, A. Serio, G. Baud-Bovy, M. Gabiccini, A. Bicchi.