11 Mar UltraHaptics: The future of Electronics
Do you ever miss the feeling of pressing real buttons on your old Nokia phone? When touchscreens started conquering the mobile world a decade ago, we lost this particular sensation. But recently, the solution was found. A great alternative based on the new technology called UltraHaptics can provide this nostalgic perception.
What is it?
UltraHaptics is a technology that, as the name might predict, utilises haptic feedback to give touchscreens that extra dimension. Haptic feedback gives the user tactile feedback. Computers and smartphones can’t really make you ‘feel’ what’s on the screen. Sure, we can see and listen to what is presented to us, but it might seem incomplete. You want to touch what you see!
The scientists at UltraHaptics like to implement this haptic feedback in smartphones. Its predecessors can be found in gaming systems, like steering wheels for your PlayStation. However, these earlier appliances missed the key-feature of todays phones. Touchscreens is where the future is, and the future is closeby!
How does it work?
UltraHaptics utilises a grid of 64 high-tech soundwave emitting sensors. This creates an extra dimension about half a meter to two meters from the screen that your hand is actually able to feel! UltraHaptics is able to mimic objects by adjusting which sensor emits how much pressure at what location.
This magic extra dimension is possible thanks to ultrasound. Unless you’re Superman (or a bat), the sound you can hear stops at around 20 kilohertz. After this point, the human definition of ultrasound starts. These invisible pressure waves are the same as those used by doctors to check on pregnant women and their unborn children.
British Computer Scientist Tom Carter missed something when he was playing games on his phone and tablet. First of all, he was annoyed that his fingers covered large parts of the screen. Another irritating factor was that his phone could only vibrate. Race through a checkpoint, *vibrate*, crash into a wall, *vibrate*, finish deadlast, *vibrate*. UltraHaptics was born.
What brings the future?
You might think Carter only wants to enhance his gaming experience. However, tests already concluded that UltraHaptics is a great addition to museums and classrooms. Other than that, we can expect a lot from home consumer appliance manufacturers. UltraHaptics already came up with the following ideas:
- Interactive holograms to feel textures, for the use in exhibitions
- A warning system for truckdrivers, who feel a buzz in their neck when a biker is in their blind spot
- A direct method for sculpters to create digital objects for movies and games
Awesome stuff, right? In what way would you like to see UltraHaptics used in the future? Please share your state-of-the-art comments in the section below, who knows what might come of it!