SpiderHand is an interactive system supporting the treatment of arachnophobia. The presented solution offers a quasi-direct interaction with a spider (or its replica), modelling the patient’s movement onto robot’s operation. The system consists of two main parts – a synthetic robotic arm that is assembled inside a terrarium and a long glove, responsible for mapping the user’s movements.
The system enables the patient to interact with a spider in a safe and comfortable manner. The smart glove employs a set of sensors to precisely measure the movements of a hand and a forearm, which are then replicated as the movements of the robot. In this way, the patient has a unique opportunity to get acquainted with spider’s reactions and observe how their behavior impacts the creature, while being comfortably separated by the terrarium.
The touch sensations are simulated using vibrotactile feedback on the glove – every time the robot touches the creature, it triggers vibration stimuli designed in a way, to imitate touching a hairy surface. The robotic arm has been developed using elastic 3D printing technology, for accurate and natural imitation of real touch and movement.
The smart glove maps the movement of the joints on the hand (fingers and wrist) and the elbow joint, offering full support for precise gestures. Therefore, we obtain almost real-life experience of touching the creature while preserving the users mental and physical comfort. Early user studies showed that the invention has significant potential for application in psychology treatments for phobias.