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Researchers Create Mid-Air Haptic Feedback System For Touch Displays 62

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the annoys-small-animals dept.
Bismillah writes "University of Bristol researchers have come up with a way to make touch screens more touchy-feely so to speak, using ultrasound waves to produce haptic feedback. You don't need to touch the screen even, as the UltraHaptics waves can be felt mid-air. Very Minority Report, but cooler." The researchers built an ultrasonic transducer grid behind an acoustically transparent display. Using acoustic modeling of a volume above the screen, they can create multiple movable control points with varying properties. A Leap Motion controller was used to detect the hand movements.

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Researchers Create Mid-Air Haptic Feedback System For Touch Displays

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  • Obvious post (Score:4, Interesting)

    by narcc (412956) on Monday October 07, 2013 @10:17PM (#45065969) Journal

    Is this the future of porn?

    • Is this the future of porn?

      Don't call it porn, call it virtual sex.

    • First thing that crossed my mind as well. Especially the way he was grabbing that tiny nob. :) Blinkin form Robinhood Man in Tights is going to be so happy.
  • Systems like this, and that super-creepy "modulated ultrasound [wikipedia.org]" stuff, make me glad that I'm not stuck on the IRB that has to shoot down all the neat delusion-disorder related research that would be totally unethical to do with hardware like this...

    James Tilly Matthews would be proud!
  • Blind (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This sounds great for blind people. It even works for deaf people too, and can be designed very similar to existing 2d UIs, so there is little difficulty porting UIs to support it. The whole 3D support it just an extra bonus.

  • ...it was in a movie, doesn't mean it's a good idea.

    So instead of actually touching something, we're supposed to be manipulating our hands out in space, accurately, with nothing to rest them on, like playing a Theremin all day. A Theremin is a box with an antenna. You wave your hands and make "space sounds" - the music you heard in all those 1950s science-fiction movies. Ever play one? They are effin' difficult, because you're just waving your hands in the air using your muscle memory as reference points

    • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Informative)

      by OzPeter (195038) on Monday October 07, 2013 @10:32PM (#45066055)

      A Theremin is a box with an antenna. You wave your hands and make "space sounds" - the music you heard in all those 1950s science-fiction movies. Ever play one? They are effin' difficult, because you're just waving your hands in the air using your muscle memory as reference points for tones only. Anyone who is good at playing a Theremin is a musical instrument genius.

      Um .. did you even watch the video?? They are using phased ultrasonics to create tactile points in space - no muscle memory needed.

    • Well, in minority report, you had an hologram in mid air. It's pretty neat because now a 3d projection would have tactile feedback, which I suppose is really the point of such a system.
    • by Gerzel (240421)

      Yeah but you don't need muscle memory to find the control points as that IS the point of haptic feedback. You FEEL where the control points are which means it is also a display that you can feel which makes it good for those who can't see.

      • by mhajicek (1582795)
        And the main advantage over a physical interface is that it can be configured on the fly.
  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Monday October 07, 2013 @10:38PM (#45066087)

    On-screen keyboards will finally get tactile feedback.

  • by JanneM (7445) on Monday October 07, 2013 @10:41PM (#45066113) Homepage

    Creating feedback points in space is cool of course, and will have a lot of uses. But I suspect the highest impact will be when applying a simpler version to ordinary 2D touch screens, and only at the screen surface.

    We could finally have screen keyboards and games where you can find the buttons with your fingers, and where they actually give tactile feedback as you press them. Might be able to define surface textures for elements on screen, again making it much easier to use your phone or tablet without having to look at the screen at all times.

  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Monday October 07, 2013 @10:47PM (#45066151) Homepage

    The "Minority Report" airborne desktop may seem the coolest future use, but it is only one potential future. The potential benefit to consumers may be biggest on new control devices that reduce or eliminate hazards of burning, electrocution, scalding, etc. caused previously by direct handling of items by clumsier, manual means. To me this risk reduction capability is far more likely, and far more beneficial, than what was seen on Minority Report.

  • When I read

    ultrasonic transducer grid

    , my first thought was that it was a doomsday weapon created by Doctor Drakken.

  • ... to use frequencies over a few hundred kilohertz, to spare the bats, bugs, and dogs. Couldn't find that in the article.
  • Will it kill my dog? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Shavano (2541114) on Monday October 07, 2013 @11:21PM (#45066293)

    We're talking sound pressure levels high enough that you can feel the modulation with your fingers. Is this safe?

    And how much power does it take to make pressure that's useful for tactile feedback at a distance?

    • by jamesh (87723)

      We're talking sound pressure levels high enough that you can feel the modulation with your fingers. Is this safe?

      And how much power does it take to make pressure that's useful for tactile feedback at a distance?

      You might be on to something here. A device that can deter that fucking dog that has scared my kids enough that they won't walk down the street anymore would be a great idea.

      I don't want to kill a dog, as such, but if it was afraid to wander the streets alone then I think the world would be a better place.

    • by phorm (591458)

      ... it could be fun for messing with people. They've already got the ability to project sounds over distance with some accuracy

      [can you hear me] whispered in your ear while something appears to touch your hair... Halloween could be a lot of fun.

  • This would be awesome with a [not-yet-possible] video hologram. Imagine a hologram you can touch; very sci-fi.
  • by fragMasterFlash (989911) on Monday October 07, 2013 @11:49PM (#45066405)
    The speed of sound is relative to the density of the media it is traversing. All Ultrasonic transmit beamforming algorithms must take media density into consideration to achieve reasonable convergence. Unless this device is performing adaptive beamforming or has a very precise humidity sensor its functionality will be spotty at best, and even if it does the inventors just stepped into a shiatstorm of patents held by the companies that have been forming medical imaging IP warchests over the past 15 - 20 years. Good luck and godspeed.
    • by chihowa (366380)

      At 20C, the change in the velocity of sound varies from 343.38 m/s (at 1% RH) to 344.6 m/s (at 99% RH). This super-cheap RH sensor [sensirion.com] is accurate to 1.8% RH and more accurate sensors are available. So, RH is not a real problem.

      Besides RH, the only thing that will significantly affect the density of the air will be temperature or strong air currents.. Temperature will be relatively constant throughout the room, especially within 20 cm of the apparatus. Small variations in temperature will occur directly adjacen

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Exactly how much sensation can this thing generate? Is it possible that this technology may eventually be adapted into a type of 'force field'?

    • by mhajicek (1582795)
      Small, lightweight objects have been levitated.
    • by iggymanz (596061)

      forget the force field, can this technology be scaled to give the exact feel of parts of the human body. it is time once again for the porn industry to step up and drive forward the technology of the multimedia experience.

  • Some sort of low precision kinect alternative?
  • ... did anyone else just nerdgasm? I mean, I know, given the way we interface with any electronics these days, it's going to be difficult to find applications for this stuff, at least initially. But, with technology like this, I doubt it will us long to find some use for it so that, in 20 years, we'll wonder how we did without it.

    Kudos to the university of Bristol for developing such an exciting and original idea.

  • Pretty cool, where's my brain interface? I want to move less than with a mouse. Waving my hands or arms about is going the wrong way.

  • I've got one. Its pretty good too. Specially for the $70 or $80 that it cost me.

    There's no story here. There's no research project either.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You can't see it, and I get the feeling the testers kind of knew where it was. I'm serious when I say this is missing holograms. :/

    But still a nice step.

  • I hear they're naming it the Focused Ultrasound Coronal Kinetics-Enabled Display.

    Sounds like a winner.
  • by sckienle (588934) on Tuesday October 08, 2013 @11:40AM (#45070833)
    I know I'm showing my age here, but I can't see the term "sonic transducer" with out a Rocky Horror Picture Show flashback: This sonic transducer, it is I suppose some kind of audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device?
  • If it will hurt my beloved pet ears then no thanks.

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