Ultrasound to give feel to games
Posted by That Other Mike on 13/09/2008
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.
I 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.