A quantitative perceptual model for tactile roughness

Chelsea Tymms, Esther P. Gardner, Denis Zorin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Everyone uses the sense of touch to explore the world, and roughness is one of the most important qualities in tactile perception. Roughness is a major identifier for judgments of material composition, comfort, and friction, and it is tied closely to manual dexterity. The advent of high-resolution 3D printing technology provides the ability to fabricate arbitrary 3D textures with surface geometry that confers haptic properties. In this work, we address the problem of mapping object geometry to tactile roughness. We fabricate a set of carefully designed stimuli and use them in experiments with human subjects to build a perceptual space for roughness. We then match this space to a quantitative model obtained from strain fields derived from elasticity simulations of the human skin contacting the texture geometry, drawing from past research in neuroscience and psychophysics. We demonstrate how this model can be applied to predict and alter surface roughness, and we show several applications in the context of fabrication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number168
JournalACM Transactions on Graphics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Fabrication
  • Perception
  • Roughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'A quantitative perceptual model for tactile roughness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this