A method and apparatus for interfacing the motion of an object with a digital processing system includes a sensor which has a sensing resolution and detects movement of the object along a degree of freedom. An amount of play less than the sensing resolution exists between the sensor and the object. A passive actuator is coupled to the mechanism to transmit a resistive force to the object along the degree of freedom. A play mechanism is coupled to the actuator to provide a desired amount of play between the actuator and the object along the degree of feedom. The desired amount of play is greater than the sensing resolution of the sensor so that the sensor can detect the desired play when the user moves the object, even when the actuator has locked the object into place. Such desired play can be torsion flex (compliance) or rotary backlash. The actuator and the sensor provide an electromechanical interface between the object and the digital processing system. A gimbal mechanism or slotted yoke mechanism can be coupled between the actuator and the object. The interface is well suited for simulations of medical procedures and simulations in which an object such as a stylus or a joystick is moved and manipulated by the user.