Flat screen displays can give the illusion of bumps and curves thanks to an algorithm developed at Disney Research laboratories in Pittsburgh, USA. The research arm of the American entertainment giant has developed an approach that alters the friction encountered by a fingertip as it glides across a screen surface.
“Our brain perceives the 3D bump on a surface mostly from information that it receives via skin stretching,” said Ivan Poupyrev, who directs Disney Research, Pittsburgh’s Interaction Group.
“Therefore, if we can artificially stretch skin on a finger as it slides on the touchscreen, the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touchscreen even though the touch surface is completely smooth.”
“The traditional approach to tactile feedback is to have a library of canned effects that are played back whenever a particular interaction occurs,” said Ali Israr, research engineer at Disney who led the project.
Israr, who previously worked on Disney’s Surround Haptics project, continued: “This makes it difficult to create a tactile feedback for dynamic visual content, where sizes and orientation of features constantly change.
“With our algorithm we do not have one or two effects, but rely on a set of controls that make it possible to tune tactile effects to a specific visual artefact on the fly.”
In addition to Poupyrev and Israr, the research team included Seung-Chan Kim, a Disney Research, Pittsburgh intern and a PhD student at KAIST in Daejeon, South Korea.
A similar approach to haptic feedback has been taken by Senseg. Rumours that its technology would be used in Apple iPads were flying in March 2012 but so far that application has not materialised.
- Disney Research develops algorithm for rendering 3-D tactile features on touch surfaces (eurekalert.org)
- Forget 3D, Disney aims for Texture TV (telegraph.co.uk)
- Soon, Touchscreens At Malls And Stores Will Touch You Back (fastcompany.com)