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University of Reading, Department of Cybernetics

The University of Reading, Department of Cybernetics has established an international reputation for cutting-edge research with funded research sponsored by the national research councils, the EC and industry. The department has thirteen full-time members of academic staff, along with distinguished visiting professors and researchers. A full complement of technical and secretarial support staff has underpinned the quality of the department's research results.

Specialized in:
Virtual Reality, haptic interfaces and systems, telerobotics, human-machine interactions

A key feature of the research is looking at texture representation via high mechanical frequencies, to enhance the haptic illusion.

Online graduate prospectus at URL:
Proposal for fp5: Intelligent machines in stroke rehabilitation at URL:

The University of Reading Department of Cybernetics has research centres on nine fully equipped research laboratories including Intelligent Robotics and Virtual Reality. There is also a mechanical workshop and the building houses the University of Reading Centre for high Performance Computing. Additional computing facilities are based on a network of Sun, Silicon Graphics and Microsoft Windows workstations with a high speed link to the central university computer unit. A key expertise within the department is that of "humans-in-the-loop" research and design. There is also a significant experience in embedded systems research and design, controller research and design, virtual realities and haptic (force controlled) systems.

The term "haptic interface" or "haptic display" refers to emerging technologies that synthesize the shape, weight and texture of a virtual object by exerting a controlled force on the operator's hand or finger at locations that would correspond to a physical object.

Products, projects and services

    Funded projects relevant to the aims and objectives of the GENTLE/S programme include:
    • Determination of haptic cues in virtual reality and tele-operation. Funded by the UK government to research on providing a realistic physical interaction in virtual environments. Applications include medical tele-operation where a surgeon can touch to locate features in keyhole surgery, interfaces for blind and visually impaired users, and information rich human machine interactions.
    • ARIADNE is an EC funded project that uses the intelligent aspects of a building information system to assist people with disabilities to move unhindered in a public building. This project co-ordinates seven partners and will demonstrate the key technologies in action in a hospital, at council offices and in an international airport terminal.
    • Interfaces to tele-operators, exoskeletons and extenders. Internally funded research that explores the human as a dynamic system when operating non-passive machines. Typical examples are large haptic interfaces, telerobotics, exoskeletons and extenders, and therapy machines such as the active instruments envisaged for ACHES.
    • Mobile robots in health care. An EC funded exchange of experts in the area of mobile robot technology and health care services.

Contact information:
University of Reading, Department of Cybernetics
Dr. William S. Harwin
P.O. Box 225
Reading RG6 6AY
United Kingdom
Tel: +44-118-931-6792
Fax: +44-118-931-8220
Web site:

Last update:
Reading, Thursday 7th October 1999