Some materials feel colder to the touch than others, and we can use this difference in perceived coldness for material recognition. This review focuses on the mechanisms underlying material recognition based on thermal cues. It provides an overview of the physical, perceptual, and cognitive processes involved in material recognition. It also describes engineering domains in which material recognition based on thermal cues have been applied. This includes haptic interfaces that seek to reproduce the sensations associated with contact in virtual environments and tactile sensors aim for automatic material recognition. The review concludes by considering the contributions of this line of research in both science and engineering.
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