About this Research Topic
The past decade has seen the emergence of training settings using virtual reality (VR) for industrial or educational training and rehabilitation. Advantages can be found in flexible implementation of immersive scenarios, enhancing the involvement of the user. Regarding rehabilitation in particular, it allows implementation of goal-oriented tasks, in a flexible and repeatable manner. Immersion in VR also promotes active engagement, which is crucial to the learning process, and in particular for neuro rehabilitation training. Here, brain plasticity has to be stimulated by active execution of the motor task.
From this perspective, the introduction of haptic feedback in VR assumes great importance at different levels: to increase the level of immersion and engagement, and to provide a congruent feedback to goal-oriented motor tasks. For example, congruency between sensory feedback and the performed motor action is important in patients to guide brain plasticity toward normal reorganization of brain function. In other training scenarios, richness of information provided by the sense of touch can be expected to enhance the learning process. There is also interest on the impact of sensory coupling on task completion and how to effectively design for this, non-visual VR environments, audio and haptics for boundary exploration, and sound-driven VR as whole body haptic experiences.
The primary objective of this Research Topic is to foster research interest into the role of haptic feedback in training and rehabilitation scenarios. When providing haptic feedback, the challenge is to replicate rich and complex stimulation by means of artificial devices and signals generated by a virtual setting, and to find the most convenient trade-off between rendering capabilities and relevance of certain haptic cues for specific tasks. From the application perspective, the interest is in the development and experimental validation of training and rehabilitation systems exploiting virtual reality and haptics, and in research studies aimed to improve integration of VR and haptics for such applications.
Keywords: Haptics, Virtual Reality, Rehabilitation, Training, Industrial
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