Researchers at Disney have invented a unique method to generate tactical feedback on a smooth glass display – all without physically modifying the screen. Unlike traditional haptic feedback solutions that use a vibrating mechanism, the new method uses electrostatic combined with a slick algorithm to accomplish the same task.
The researchers determined that the sensation one feels when sliding a finger across a bump on a surface was mostly caused by the fingertip being stretched and pulled as it travels over a raised area. This sensation can be created artificially, the Mickey Mouse team found, by using electrovibration to generate electrostatic. This in turn creates friction which is said to feel just as if your finger was coming into contact with a raised area.
Using the aforementioned algorithm, the team is able to generate sensations on-the-fly. For example, an on-screen ball would feel like a gradually curved surface while a stack of DVDs would exhibit a series of bumps as if running your finger across them in real life.
The technology has a lot of potential, especially for those with a visual disability. What’s more, typing or playing a game on your mobile device could become a whole new experience although I’m not so sure how I feel about the idea of constantly getting zapped by my phone or tablet. I imagine its safe or they wouldn’t be looking into it for everyday use, but I digress.