The Odd Blog

And when our cubs grow / We'll show you what war is good for

Ultrasound to give feel to games

Posted by That Other Mike on 13/09/2008

BBC NEWS | Technology | Ultrasound to give feel to games.

The power of ultrasonic waves has been harnessed to produce “virtual” objects in mid-air.

The field of haptics – integrating computing and the sense of touch – has been around for some time but has required gloves or mechanical devices to impart a sense of feeling.

Now, a team of Japanese researchers has developed a system that uses focused ultrasound to do the job.

Its inventors may soon commercialise the approach.

This is possibly the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

I’ve long struggled for a solution to the problem of touch in computing, as an intellectual exercise, and as a problem it’s long seemed insoluble, in practical terms.

And now I have to have a Thomas Huxley moment: how stupid not to have seen it sooner! It’s one of those solutions which seems so simple after you hear it, which seems to just slot into place.

Ultrasound to give feel to gamesI predict that this will revolutionise gaming and the development of viable virtual reality systems. The next big challenge is to realistically approximate a local environment in visual terms, without having to wear a neck-breaking helmet. My guess is that it will come in the form of some kind narrow picture beam projecting directly onto the retina from a short distance, although tracking the position of the iris might be a little more complicated.

Anyway, this is some excellent, very cool news. It just illustrates in a nutshell why computing and the related science are still things to be excited about.

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