Bristol University researchers develops “ultrahaptics”

Posted on October 8, 2013 09:40 am

Britain’s Bristol university researchers will this week present the UltraHaptics paper at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology 2013 being held at University of St Andrews. They have so far demonstrated an “ultrahaptics” feedback prototype that allows people to interact with computer interfaces without touching them. UltraHaptics allows people interacting with a screen to feel what is displayed and also receive invisible information before touching it. According to the document [PDF] the technology works through the use of acoustic radiation force, projected through ultrasonic transducers. These emit very high frequency sound waves which when they meet mid-air hence creating a sensation on a person’s skin.

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The researchers combined several waves and were able to create multiple points of tactile feedback with different properties that can be distinguished by people. They built in haptic feedback into existing interactive surfaces without sacrificing their ease of use and accessibility and to achieve that, they designed a system with an ultrasound transducer array positioned beneath an acoustically transparent display according to their research paper. That kind of arrangement allows the projection of focused ultrasound through the interactive surface and directly onto the users’ bare hands. By creating multiple simultaneous feedback points, and giving them individual tactile properties, users can receive localized feedback associated to their actions.”

Contador Harrison