Development and Evaluation of a Thermal Display for Material Identification and Discrimination

Hsin Ni Ho, Lynettea Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a thermal display that assists in object identification in virtual environments by simulating the thermal cues associated with making contact with materials with different thermal properties. The thermal display was developed based on a semi-infinite body model. Three experiments were conducted to evaluate the performance of the display. The first experiment compared the ability of subjects' to identify various materials, which were presented physically or simulated with the thermal display. The second experiment examined the capacity of subjects to discriminate between a real and simulated material based on thermal cues. In the third experiment, the changes in skin temperature that occurred when making contact with real and simulated materials were measured to evaluate how these compare to theoretical predictions. The results indicated that there was no significant difference in material identification and discrimination when subjects were presented with real or simulated materials. The changes in skin temperature were comparable for real and simulated materials and were related to the contact coefficient of the material palpated, consistent with the semi-infinite body model. These findings suggest that a thermal display is capable of facilitating object recognition when visual cues are limited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13
Number of pages1
JournalACM Transactions on Applied Perception
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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