Now researchers at entertainment giant Disney have gone one further – by offering a way for users to “feel” objects’ textures that they see on a flat touchscreen monitor.
The newly discovered technique means minute vibrations are sent through the display, allowing people to “feel” ridges, bumps and sides of the on-screen image.
These vibrations effectively trick fingers into having the impression of touching a textured surface, according to the researchers at Disney. And touchscreen systems already in existence should be able to add this vibration-causing algorithm, so the new discovery, made in Disney’s own research laboratory in Pittsburgh, could have implications for the whole industry.
The technique, created by lead researcher Dr Ali Israr and his team, involves a recreation of what takes place when finger tips move over a real physical bump.
Most of the perception of a 3D bump occurs from data received in the brain via skin stretching.
To kid the brain into believing it is touching a physical feature, the movements transmitted via the touchscreen artificially stretch a finger tip’s skin so the person feels something bumpy despite the surface of the touchscreen just being smooth glass.
An algorithm has been devised so that various textures can be recreated from a wide variety of objects.
It’s possible to see an online video which depicts this system has footage of people running their hands over apples and other fruit, jellyfish and the valleys and hills of a 3D map.
And the more pronounced a feature is, the more vibration is required to faithfully imitate its feel.
While there are already some systems in place to give tactile impressions using touchscreens, these traditionally just used a library of canned effects, according to Dr Israr.
He explained: “With our algorithm, we are not just limited to one of two effects but a whole set of controls, making it a possibility to tune tactile effects to a particular visual artefact on the fly.”
The Disney algorithm announcement follows a launch this summer from Microsoft’s research unit of a touchscreen with 3D pictures that can be touched and manipulated. That project involved an LCD flat panel screen, force sensors and a robotic arm.
So it’s worth learning more about touch screens for your business, whether you are interested in having a touchscreen pc or anything else.
Look online for a quality specialist provider offering a variety of products – and remember the importance of having good technical support from your supplier. Go with a company that lets you take the time to choose the products that are right for your application, with no obligation. That means looking for those offering products demos and loans of equipment before you commit to buying. Start by looking for a touchscreen supplier online.
Author Bio: Juliet England is a freelance blog writer who writes across a number of different industries and contributes to a wide range of websites, including Distec.