Disney Research Develops Tactile 3D Touchscreen[Adario Strange]

When some of us hear the name Disney Research, the immediate assumption is that it’s a lab devoted to developing better animatronics or some other similarly whimsical application of bleeding-edge technology. But a new development from the lab could completely change the way we use touchscreens by adding realistic tactile feedback to the 3D images displayed.

In a new video (see above), Disney Research shows off a process it calls “rendering 3D tactile features on touch surfaces.” For the project, the researchers used an electrovibration-based display and a new algorithm developed in-house to allow the human hand to feel the textures of objects as presented on the screen.

The algorithm maps the frictional forces between the screen and the user’s finger to the surface contours of the virtual 3D image presented on the touchscreen. This dynamic allows the system to adjust to various virtual surface sensations on the fly, rather than offering canned sensations as some tactile touchscreen feedback experiments have demonstrated in the past.

This tactile touch system works on everything from map topographies, animals and any number of 3D-rendered objects. The researchers plan to present their findings later this week at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Scotland.

“Touch interaction has become the standard for smartphones, tablets and even desktop computers, so designing algorithms that can convert the visual content into believable tactile sensations has immense potential for enriching the user experience,” Ivan Poupyrev, director of the Pittsburgh’s Interaction Group at Disney Research, said in a statement.

“We believe our algorithm will make it possible to render rich tactile information over visual content and that this will lead to new applications for tactile displays.”

Source: Mashable.com

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