Hong Z. Tan

Hong Z. Tan

Purdue University EE Building
465 Northwestern Avenue
West Lafayette, IN 47907
Office: +1.765.494.6416
Email: Hong Tan's Email Address

Hong Z. Tan is the Keysight Professor in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. She concurrently holds courtesy appointments in the School of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue University. Her research focuses on haptic human-machine interfaces and haptic perception. She has published more than 160 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles in haptics research. She is known internationally as a leading expert on haptics psychophysics, taking a perception-based approach to solving engineering problems. She is frequently invited to give keynote speeches at international conferences and research institutions, educating a broad audience on haptics and its emerging applications in human computer interaction, robotics, medicine and education.
    Tan received her Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, P.R. China. She earned her Master and Doctorate degrees, both in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab before joining the faculty at Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1998. She has held a McDonnell Visiting Fellowship at Oxford University, a Visiting Associate Professorship in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University, and a Guest Researcher position in the Institute of Life Science and Technology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. From 2011-2015, Tan was a Visiting Researcher, then a Senior Researcher and Research Manager at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing, China. She is currently on research leave from Purdue University, holding a visiting position as the Lead Haptics Scientist at Google LLC.
    Tan was a recipient of the prestigious US National Science Foundation's Early Faculty Development (CAREER) Award. She was a Chinese National Natural Science Funds' Distinguished (Overseas) Young Scholar. In addition to serving on numerous program committees, she was a co-organizer (with Blake Hannaford) of the International Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems from 2003 to 2005. In 2006, Tan served as the Founding Chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Haptics (TCH). The TCH played a key role in launching the IEEE Transactions on Haptics (ToH) in 2008. Tan has served as a ToH Associate Editor from the journal's birth to 2012, and received a Meritorious Service Award in 2012. From 2012-2015, Tan was the Editor-in-Chief of the World Haptics Conference Editorial Board, and co-chaired the World Haptics Conference with Ed Colgate in 2015. In 2017, Tan was elevated to IEEE Fellow for "contributions to wearable haptics."

Publications (on a separate page)

Google Scholar Citation

Highlighted Projects

TAPS (TActile Phonemic Sleeve) for Speech Communication through the Skin
We devised a phonemic-based approach to encoding speech sounds (phonemes) as vibrotactile stimulation patterns on the forearm, conveyed through a 4-by-6 tactor array. We have tested about 100 participants on TAPS. Our results show that the best participants can learn up to 500 English words at a rate of 1 word per minute!

Select Publications:
Our paper won the IEEE Transactions on Haptics (ToH) Best Paper Award 2020, funded by IEEE Robotics and Automation Society to recognize the best ToH paper published in calendar year 2019.
Charlotte M. Reed, Hong Z. Tan, Zachary D. Perez, E. Courtenay Wilson, Frederico M. Severgnini, Jaehong Jung, Juan S. Martinez, Yang Jiao, Ali Israr, Frances Lau, Keith Klumb, Robert Turcott, and Freddy Abnousi, "A phonemic-based haptic display for speech communication," IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 2-17, 2019.
(This article explains the design approach of 39 vibrotactile patterns for the 39 English phonemes, and provides the details of the 24 position-based consonant codes and the 15 movement-based vowel codes.)

Hong Z. Tan, Charlotte M. Reed, Yang Jiao, Zachary D. Perez, E. Courtenay Wilson, Jaehong Jung, Juan S. Sebastian, and Frederico M. Severgnini, "Acquisition of 500 English words through a TActile Phonemic Sleeve (TAPS)," to appear in IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 2020.
(This article presents results in terms of total learning time and word recognition accuracy from 51 participants who were trained to receive up to 500 English words using the TAPS.)

Hong Z. Tan, Seungmoon Choi, Frances W. Y. Lau, and Freddy Abnousi, "Methodologyy for maximizing information transmission of haptic devices: A survey," Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 108, No. 6, pp. 945-965, 2020.
(This article was actually the "literature review" for the TAPS project, even though it took longer to be published. A practical and useful insight is that movement-based haptic stimuli is vivid and distinct, and highly effective at increasing the information transmission of haptic devices.)

Juan S. Martinez, Lori L. Holt, Charlotte M. Reed, and Hong Z. Tan, "Incidental categorization of vibrotactile stimuli," IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 73-79, 2020.
(This article demonstrates that task-irrelevant position-based and movement-based vibrotactile stimuli can be categorized without explicit attention during a visuomotor task.)

Juan S. Martinez, Hong Z. Tan, and Charlotte M. Reed, "Improving tactile codes for increased speech communication rates in a phonemic-based tactile display," IEEE Transactions on Haptics, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.200-211, 2021.
(In this article, we revise our haptic phonemic codes by taking into account the frequency of occurrence of phonemes and phoneme pairs. We show that speech transmission rates could be improved by more than 50%.)

Video of TAPS
Tactile Phonemic Sleeve


Faculty Research Award (2018)
Faculty Research Award (2019)

Virtual Reality for Sports Training
We have developed three VR applications for sports training -- footbal (receiver training for catching a football from any direction), baseball (hand-eye coordination training), and Taekwondo (training for kicking/breaking a target). We use haptic feedback to indicate collision with a virtual object (e.g., a baseball bat).

Haptic Signal Design for Emotional Communication
How do we design haptic signals that feel like natural phenomena? We work with designers to explore ways that vibrotactile patterns can capture the essence of breathing, heartbeat, earthquake, bubbles, etc. Our ultimate goal is to achieve visceral reactions to hand-crafted haptic signals.

Select Publications:
Sang-Won Shim and Hong Z. Tan, "palmScape: Calm and pleasant vibrotactile signal," in A. Marcus and E. Rosenzweig (Eds.), Design, User Experience, and Usability, Interaction Design, Proceedings of the 22nd HCI International Conference (HCII 2020, Part I). Lecture Notes in Computer Science Vol. 12200, Springer, Cham, pp. 532-548, 2020.

Gina Clepper, Juan Sebastian Martinez, Ahmed Farooq, Alyse Marie Allred, Kevin McDonald, Ian Carr, Austin Toombs, and Hong Z. Tan, "Feeling creepy: A haptic haunted house," Work in Progress Paper, in Proceedings of the IEEE Haptics Symposium, March 28-31, pp. 562-563, 2020.

Video of Haptic Haunted House
Haptic Haunted House flyer

Select Past Projects (Videos)

Haptic Demos at Microsoft TechFest 2014     SlickFeel at UIST 2012     sensingChair at SIGGRAPH2001     Haptic Simulation of Mass-Spring Systems