Haptic feedback used to be as simple as a vibrating motor buried deep in your devices case. It was entirely bipolar – either on or off – and not too sophisticated. But that world is long gone now, and haptic feedback is getting smarter and more precise all the time. Two recent announcements hint at a future of feedback to mimics real touch, and doesn’t even require a screen.
Disney’s Interaction Group have debuted their cutting-edge method for fooling your sense of touch into thinking it is feeling an actual object rather than a flat screen. It does this by minutely stretching your skin. Really. Here’s what the group’s director Ivan Poupyrev had to say about the technology:
Our brain perceives the 3D bump on a surface mostly from information that it receives via skin stretching. Therefore, if we can artificially stretch skin on a finger as it slides on the touch screen, the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touch screen even though the touch surface is completely smooth.
Here’s a video of the tech in action:
Then there’s the system created by researches at the University of Bristol. Their haptic feedback doesn’t even require a screen. Again, really. This touch-free feedback uses a series of high-frequency sound waves to push on your fingers while they are in mid-air. You can get all Minority Report on your files, and still get feedback from the system. Pretty cool. The Bristol team also has a video explanation, which you can find below:
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