Micromanipulators are small robots built to perform displacement and assembly tasks on objects often thinner than a human hair. Yet, while robots can accurately perform small movements, they often need to be directed by a human operator to carry out complex and dynamic tasks. Traditional user interfaces provide very little useful information to the operator when it comes to understanding what is happening at the microscopic level in real-time.
Haptics offers a highly intuitive interactive way of handling the very small. By sending scaled down position commands from the device end-effector to the micromanipulator, everyday gestures translate into high-precision pick-and-place commands. And by sending scaled up forces measured by the microrobot to the operator's hand, the haptic device provides much needed real-time feedback on the outcome of the operation. With such a setup, manipulating a micro-bead "feels" just like handling a golf ball.