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Mr Mick Fielding
Bachelor of Engineering (Robotics)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Mick creates shape-changing device
The fledgling haptics research field holds the key to a prize-winning student project completed by Deakin robotics graduate Mick Fielding. Put simply, haptics is like virtual reality, with the addition of touch – or sensory feedback.
Building on earlier Deakin research, Mick Fielding created a shape-changing device. It's a single-plane surface that can change shape in response to a computer-controlled signal – and provide feedback on the positioning of every component making up the surface. The aim was to build a device that can do rapid prototyping. The user can design a single-plane object on a computer, then using a serial or USB connection to the device, recreate the design as a three-dimensional surface. ‘You could design a car door panel for example', Mick explained. ‘Then you could put fibreglass over the three-dimensional model and produce a rapid prototype. And realistically, within hours, you could modify it and create a new prototype for testing in the wind tunnel'.
Mick's work attracted the Shell Geelong Refinery prize for the best final-year engineering project at Deakin in 2003. Mick's major project challenge was working out how to simplify and streamline large-scale multi-element control. The work has now become the springboard for Mick to begin his PhD research in haptics at Deakin in 2004. His next challenge is to design and develop a more sophisticated device providing force feedback to a controller.
Mick is excited by the emerging potential of haptics to revolutionise areas including the medical field. ‘I think the medical field is where haptics is going to have its biggest effects', he said. ‘Like the potential to have surgeons on one side of the world carrying out operations on the other, using the tactile feedback provided by haptics devices'.