Tech lets users feel 3D objects on flat screens
2013-10-21 0:00

By Ben Coxworth | GizMag

Our smartphones and tablets may be able to show us what things look and sound like, but with their flat glass screens, thereís no way that they could indicate what something feels like ... right? Actually, they may soon be able to do that, too. Researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh have developed a system that lets usersí fingertips feel a simulated bump through a flat screen, that corresponds to a bump in the displayed image.

A user of Disneyís new system is able to feel the ridges in a trilobite fossil, even though itís displayed on a completely flat screen

Ordinarily, when we feel a bump as weíre sliding our finger across a smooth surface, we do so because the increase in friction created by the bump causes the skin in our fingertip to stretch ever so slightly.

In order to simulate that friction, the Disney team uses a conductive display in which the electrostatic forces between the finger and the glass can be modulated by applying more or less voltage to the screen. An algorithm keeps track of the location and speed of the userís moving fingertip, and adjusts the "electrovibrations" to match the topography of the part of the image thatís being touched.


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