jump to navigation


Here you will find some general information about the Enactive Torch.

How do I obtain an Enactive Torch?

We are in the process of creating an international not-for-profit Enactive Interface Consortium that will organize the development, construction, and distribution of the Enactive Torch as an open-source research platform under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license.

For those with electronics skills we have made the technical details, including the full circuit diagram and an example of Arduino source code freely available: Enactive Torch v3.0 tech. sheet. Any Enactive Torches that are constructed on the basis of this information are also included in the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.

If you prefer not to build your own Enactive Torch, but want to use the device for a short time, for instance to conduct an experiment, it may be possible to make arrangements. Please contact us at enactivetorch@gmail.com to see what we can do for you. Several Enactive Torches are already on loan to various academic institutions in Europe and Japan.

It is also possible to buy the latest version of the Enactive Torch at cost price, but again only for non-commercial uses covered by the CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. For more information about the latest technological specifications and pricing details, please contact us by e-mail.

A Brief History of the Enactive Torch

Tom Froese and Adam Spiers met in 2000 while studying in the Department of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, UK. For his undergraduate degree (BSc in Cybernetics) Adam Spiers developed the Haptic Torch. This earlier version of the Enactive Torch was completed by 2003, and was successfully tested on blind subjects who were able to use it to navigate novel environments in a reliable and non-intrusive manner.

After graduating from the University of Reading in 2004, Tom got interested in enactive cognitive science while studying for a PhD in Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex. One focus of this research was the enactive approach to perception, which appeals to the results of work done with sensory substitution technology as empirical support for its hypothesis that perception consists in perceptually guided, embodied action.

Then in early 2007 Tom and Ad decided to pool their resources by adapting the Haptic Torch in order to do experiments in terms of the enactive approach to perception. A new haptic device, the Enactive Torch, was designed especially for this purpose.

The Enactive Torch

The Enactive Torch provides the user with one continuous channel of vibro-tactile feedback to the hand, where the strength of stimulation depends on the distance to the object which is currently pointed at. The distance is measured using an ultrasonic sensor. More recent versions make use of infrared distance sensors and in principle any other measurement module can be added and used.

Depending on the particular hardware implementation, the Enactive Torch also contains a servo-motor and audio hardware to which the output may be routed if the researcher desires.

The Enactive Torch

An early version of the Enactive Torch

More recent models of the Enactive Torch have additional capabilities that turn it into an open-source research platform for experiments in sensory substitution. There are on-board data recording and motor playback options, wireless information transfer to a PC, accelerometer readings of arm movements, detachable sensor and motor modules, etc.

For more technical details, see the information provided by Creative Robotics Ltd. For pictures of recent models, please check the Image Gallery.


1. The Enactive Torch Is A Sensor That Helps The Blind “See” | TechCrunch - August 13, 2014

[…] new type of sensor could help the blind “see” objects in front of them. Called the Enactive Torch, the device sends out infrared signals which enable the user to sense nearby objects, thanks to a […]

2. The Enactive Torch Is A Sensor That Helps The Blind “See” | TechKnowButler.net - August 13, 2014

[…] new form of sensor could assistance a blind “see” objects in front of them. Called a Enactive Torch, a device sends out infrared signals that capacitate a user to clarity circuitously objects, […]

3. Enactive Torchは、視覚障害者に「見る」力を与えるセンサー - TechCrunch - August 14, 2014

[…] 新しいタイプのセンサーが、視覚障害者が目の前にあるものを「見る」力になる。 Enactive Torchと呼ばれるそのデバイスは、赤外線信号を発してユーザーに近くの物体を認識させる。腕にはめた小さなブザーが、ドア枠や壁にぶつかりそうになった人に警告を与える。杖の強化版だと思えばよい。 […]

4. The Enactive Torch enables the blind to “see” | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World - August 19, 2014

[…] To explore the Enactive Torch in more detail, you can check out the machine’s official site here. […]

Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: