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— Wearable Electronics

Tacit: Wrist-mounted sonar for the visually impaired

We’ve seen a number of devices - such as the UltraCane and EYE 21 system - that combine sonar and haptic or audio feedback to let the visually impaired “see” their surroundings through the senses of touch or hearing. Tacit is a similar device that also uses sonar to measure the distance to objects and provide users with a ‘view” of their surroundings through haptic feedback. But unlike previous devices we’ve looked at, Tacit is mounted on the wrist so it doesn’t impair a user’s hearing or interfere with the use of other assistance devices such as canes. Read More
— Sports

Robotic device helps golfers with their putts

Golfers, are you still trying to perfect your putt? Well, you could try a five-minute lesson from the RobotPutt machine, have your technique analyzed by the iClub system, or download the iSwing app. Someday soon, you might also be able to use a new system developed by Katherine Kuchenbecker, an assistant professor of Innovation Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. Her system guides the user's club into delivering the ball straight to the hole, with the intention that golfers will develop a muscle memory for what it feels like to execute that "perfect putt." Read More
— Science

Disney’s Surround Haptics creates ‘virtual actuators’ to generate high-res tactile feedback

In the quest for more immersive entertainment experiences, researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh (DRP) have developed a new tactile technology called Surround Haptics. Instead of just relying on sound and vision – and in the case of video games, vibrating controllers – the system uses a low-resolution grid of vibrating actuators to generate high-resolution, continuous, moving tactile strokes across a person’s skin. They claim the system is able to create smooth, continuous tactile motion, akin to the feeling of someone dragging a finger across someone’s skin, rather than the discrete tactile pulsations or buzzes commonly used in today’s haptic technology. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Mophie pulse promises haptic feedback and audio boost for the iPod touch

While the iPod touch 4G is known for its gaming capabilities, it doesn't support haptic feedback, which could enhance the mobile gaming experience. Unveiled at CES 2011, the mophie pulse is aimed at changing that. It's an iPod touch case that utilizes ViviTouch technology, in order to generate tactile feedback in the form of various touchscreen vibrations synchronized with in-game sound effects. Read More
— Good Thinking

'Sighted' wheelchair taken for first successful test drive

The introduction of the white cane early in the last century gave blind and visually-impaired users a mobility tool that not only helped them to get around, but also allowed them to be seen by others. Now researchers from Sweden's Luleå University of Technology – the same place that designed the autonomous wheelchair – have developed and publicly tested a system which could potentially give wheelchair-bound blind people a virtual white stick to help them detect and avoid obstacles. An electric wheelchair has been fitted with a navigational laser scanner which provides virtual 3D maps of the surroundings, and sends feedback about any obstructions to the user via a haptic interface. Read More
— Good Thinking

Proverbial Wallets to keep your digital spending in check

The widespread adoption of credit and debit cards means, for many people, the cashless society is already a reality. However, this means the simple system of checking how much cash you’ve got in your wallet before making a purchase is no longer an accurate reflection of your finances, making it all too easy to succumb to temptation and overextend yourself financially. The Proverbial Wallet project at MIT is looking at “un-abstracting virtual assets” with wallets that provide tactile feedback that reflects a person’s current financial state. Read More
— Robotics

Surgical robot provides haptic feedback to users

Robot-assisted surgery has a number of advantages over traditional surgery – it’s steadier, more precise, less invasive, plus the surgeon doesn’t even have to be in the same room (or continent) as the patient. One of its drawbacks, however, is the fact that surgeons can’t feel any of the resistance put up by the patients’ tissues – essentially, the controls provide no sense of touch. To address this problem, Linda van den Bedem from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has created a prototype surgical robot that does provide tactile feedback, and its name is Sofie... or Surgeon’s Operating Force-feedback Interface Eindhoven. Read More
— Computers

Immersion's new haptic effects solution heads for Toshiba's Libretto w100

Are you the sort of person who loves touch screen technology but yearns for the mechanical feel and security of a real keyboard? You may be interested to hear that Toshiba’s Libretto w100 dual touch-screen mini notebook will be the first device to hit the market that incorporates Immersion Corporation’s TouchSense 2500 solution that provides touch feedback effects when hitting keys. The haptic effects help to minimize the chance of mis-keying, provide immediate tactile response and allow you to get all touchy and feely at the same time. Read More
— Electronics

Heads-Up Virtual Reality device lets users see and ‘touch’ 3D images

It’s not uncommon to see children attempt to reach out and touch objects the first time they don 3D glasses and sit down in front of a 3D TV. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have created a new virtual reality device that enables users to do just that. The relatively low-cost device called the Heads-Up Virtual Reality device (HUVR) combines a consumer 3D HDTV panel and a touch-feedback (haptic) device to enable users not only to see a 3D image, but “feel” it too. Read More
— Medical

Haptic feedback tools being developed for laparoscopic surgery training

Laparoscopic gastric banding is a common surgical treatment for morbid obesity and the most critical factor in the success of the operation lies in the hands of the surgeon - who needs the proficiency and skill to insert slender, handheld tools into the body of the patient. A team of interdisciplinary researchers, led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has recently won a US$2.3 million federal grant to develop a touch-sensitive virtual reality simulator that will realistically replicate how performing a gastric band operation feels - making it ideal for developing and teaching fundamental surgical skills and for assessing physicians wanting to be certified as a laparoscopic surgeon. Read More