Haptic Interfaces

Haptic interfaces are computer peripheral devices that provide force feedback to the user. Many people are familiar with consumer grade haptic devices for gaming: force feedback joysticks that provide vibration when shooting or a steering wheel that shakes when driving over rough terrain. More high-end devices are used for professional applications where they provide the user with force feedback to enhance their task performance or increase the realism of a simulation. Compared to game controllers, these devices provide in general more detailed and accurate force feedback. They also have more degrees of freedom: while a steering wheel has only 1 degree of freedom (rotation) and a joystick has 2 (forward/backward movement, and right/left), professional device usually have at least 3 degrees of freedom (to allow the user to move in all directions). Below is a list of devices, many of which are commercially available. The list is by no means complete. If you have suggestions for devices that are missing or other improvements to the list, please let me know.

Butterfly Haptics

Butterfly Haptics is the only company that makes haptic interfaces that are based on magnetic levitation. A major advantage over designs that transmit the haptic force through mechanical linkages is the absence of friction and the ability to render high stiffnesses.


Force Dimension is a swiss company, based out of Lausanne. Their designs all use a parallel mechanism resulting in a high stiffness.

The 3DOF Omega haptic device.

The 3DOF Delta haptic device provides a larger workspace then the Omega.

The 6DOF Delta haptic device.


Haption is a French company that makes three haptic interfaces with a serial mechanism.






The Laparoscopic Surgical Workstation is an interface that simulates 2 laparoscopic surgical instruments. Each instrument has 5dof of force feedback.

The Immersion Cyberforce combines 2 products: the CyberGrasp gives force feedback to the fingers (The black glove-like device). The silver arm provides global force feedback to the hand. The goal is to simulate both individual finger forces as well as grounded forces to the hand.

Mimic Technologies

Mimic Technologies is a Seattle, USA, based company that was started by Jeff Berkley from the University of Washington's HITLab. Their haptic interface differs from other commercially available devices in that it is 'tension' based: wires pull on the interface that the user is holding.

The Mimic Mantris.

Moog FCS Robotics

Moog FCS Robotics is a Dutch company that makes the Haptic Master: a 3DOF haptic interface that can output a peak force of 250N. It is the only commercially available haptic interface with admittance (force) control: it controls the force output thourgh measurement of the actual force at the end-effector.

Novint Technologies

Novint makes the lowest cost haptic device on the market. While most haptic device have prices ranging from somewhere in between the Toyota Echo to Porche range, you can pick up Novint's Falcon for about $200.

The Novint Falcon 3DOF.

MPB Technologies

MPB Technologies is a Canadian company, based out of Montreal. They make the Cubic, a haptic interface based on a parallel mechanism, and the Freedom6, a haptic interface based on a serial mechanism. The Freedom 6S' original design came out of Professor Hayward's lab at McGill University.

The Cubic

The Freedom 6S: a 6DOF device with very low friction, inertia, and backlash.

The Freedom 7S: The 7DOF version of the Freedom6 (additional grippers).


Quanser is a Canadian company that offers a wide variety of haptic devices. The 3DOF pantograph and 5 DOF twin-pantograph were orginally developed in Prof. Salcudean's lab at the University of British Columbia.

The 2DOF planar pantograph

The 3dof Mirage model"Haptic Wand".

The 3DOF planar pantograph

The 5dof twin-pantograph "Haptic Wand".


Sensable is a US company, based out of Woburn, near Boston. It's line of 'Phantom' devices has sold more than 3000 since it came on the market in 1994. The original design for the Phantom device comes out of Dr. Salisbury's lab at M.I.T.

The Phantom Omni device: a relatively low cost device providing 6 dof sensing and 3 dof force feedback.

The Phantom Premium 6DOF

The Phantom 3.0 6DOF with a large workspace.





Xitact is a Swiss company, based in Lausanne. It makes haptic interfaces for simulation of medical procedures. Xitact has recently merged with Mentice Coorportation.

The Xitact IHP for simulating an endoscopic instrument for minimally invasive surgery.

The Xitact CHP for simulating interventional procedures of different kinds: cardiology, peripheral interventions, and interventional radiology.

Copyright 2003-2012 Iman Brouwer