As the largest organ in the human body, the skin provides the important sensory channel for humans to receive external stimulations based on touch. By the information perceived through touch, people can feel and guess the properties of objects, like weight, temperature, textures, and motion, etc. In fact, those properties are nerve stimuli to our brain received by different kinds of receptors in the skin. Mechanical, electrical, and thermal stimuli can stimulate these receptors and cause different information to be conveyed through the nerves. Technologies for actuators to provide mechanical, electrical or thermal stimuli have been developed. These include static or vibrational actuation, electrostatic stimulation, focused ultrasound, and more. Smart materials, such as piezoelectric materials, carbon nanotubes, and shape memory alloys, play important roles in providing actuation for tactile sensation. This paper aims to review the background biological knowledge of human tactile sensing, to give an understanding of how we sense and interact with the world through the sense of touch, as well as the conventional and state-of-the-art technologies of tactile actuators for tactile feedback delivery.
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