We had the chance to check out a couple of student projects at Northeastern University's fantastically-named Action Lab during a trip to Boston this week. On our quick tour through the facilities, we were shown a haptic controller being used to simulate the act of carrying a cup full of coffee, in order to monitor how people adapt movements to deal with the fluid dynamics of a hypothetical hot beverage inside the equally theoretical cup. The team had all sorts of strange and fascinating controls bandied about the facilities for the purpose of monitoring reactions to movement, but the one that really caught our eye was the ball-racket system. The controller uses a hacked up ping pong paddle connected to an encoder that feeds its real world vertical position into a computer, so test subjects can participate in what looks like rudimentary Atari game of paddle ball. Also on the bottom is a breaking mechanism that applies force to the paddle when the "ball" makes contact, so it feels like the real thing. There's a video of the system in action after the break, and more information about the studies can be found in the source link below.