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Input Devices

Levitating Haptics Joystick Gives Good Feedback 70

SubComdrTaco writes "A controller developed at Carnegie Mellon University allows computer users to manipulate three-dimensional images and explore virtual environments not only through sight and sound, but by using their sense of touch. It simulates a hand's responses to touch because it relies on a part that floats in a magnetic field rather than on mechanical linkages and cables, according to Ralph L. Hollis, a Carnegie Mellon professor who developed the controller. The controller — like a joystick topped with a block that can be grasped — has just one moving part and rests in a bowl-like structure connected to a computer. Two of the controllers can be used simultaneously to pick up and move virtual objects on a monitor. In a demonstration Tuesday, visitors to Hollis' lab were invited to move an image of a pin across a plate of various textures, causing the controller to bump along ripples, vibrate across fine striations and glide across smooth areas. On one computer, users could "feel" the contours of a virtual rabbit. Hollis said his researchers had built 10 of the devices, six of which were to be sent to other universities across the country and in Canada, and that a new company, Butterfly Haptics, would begin marketing the device in June or July. The controller, which Hollis said will cost "much less" than $50,000, could enable a would-be surgeon to operate on a virtual human organ and sense the texture of tissue or give a designer the feeling of fitting a part into a virtual jet engine, or might also be used to convey the feeling of wind under the wings of unmanned military planes."
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Levitating Haptics Joystick Gives Good Feedback

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  • virtual surgery (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mblase ( 200735 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @10:33AM (#22649972)
    The controller, which Hollis said will cost "much less" than $50,000, could enable a would-be surgeon to operate on a virtual human organ and sense the texture of tissue

    Let's get a bunch of complaints out of the way right now and point out the obvious: that such virtual surgery would only be an educational tool and would, for obvious reasons, be completely unsuitable as a "telecommuting surgeon" solution.
  • by IAmGarethAdams ( 990037 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @12:36PM (#22651950)

    The maglev interface can exert enough force to make objects feel reassuringly solid, says Hollis, resisting as much as 40 newtons of force before it shifts even a millimetre.

    What worries me about this is the reverse of this. If a little wand can resist a 40N force, a miscalculation in the simulation software could presumably easily apply a 40N force to a joint which shouldn't have 40N applied to it...

    Especially if the evolution of this device is to make it bigger/more immersive.
  • by bane2571 ( 1024309 ) on Wednesday March 05, 2008 @04:52PM (#22655778)
    I can see it now:

    Script kiddie 1: I hax0red your Box and deleted your pronz lol!
    Script kiddie 2: Well I hax0red your Box, enjoy your broken arm.

    It's somewhat frustrating that a lot of possibly cool consumer goodies are ruined by their potential to kill/injure the user. If only humanity wouldn't inevitably find the way to damage themselves.

New systems generate new problems.