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Tactile

Many smartphone or tablet users will already be familiar with receiving vibration feedback when typing on a virtual keyboard, but, though better than nothing, it's not particularly convincing. There have been attempts to make sensory feedback from touchscreens more realistic using electrostatic force, for example, or even creating the sensation of physical buttons by pushing liquid into prearranged tactile pixels, but Fujitsu is claiming to break new ground with its prototype haptic sensory tablet. Read More
While we can counter the deterioration of sight and hearing with glasses and hearing aids, few tools exist for combating a degenerating sense of touch. A common ailment among stroke patients and the aging, treating diminishing tactile perception has proven a complicated task. Looking to provide a wearable solution unimposing enough for everyday use, a research team from Germany's Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) is developing a stimulation glove designed to be worn passively to alleviate such impairments. Read More
The Faculty of Engineering at Israel's Bar Ilan University has developed a prototype of a contact lens which could enable the visually impaired to see the world in a whole new light. Developed by Professor Zeev Zalevsky, the contact lens processes digital images and translates them into tactile sensations which can then be felt on the user's cornea, allowing them to form a picture of their physical surroundings. Read More
Scientists have used 3D printing technology to transform images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope into tactile "pictures" for the blind. Astronomers Carol Christian and Antonella Nota of the Space Telescope Science Institute are experimenting with 3D models as a means of aiding education for people who cannot study visual images. Read More
Described by its creators as the first freeform software controller, Palette is a range of buttons, dials and sliders made so that creative types can design their own hardware interfaces for their software of choice, be it for music creation, photo-editing or gaming. Read More
Holodeck, anyone? Researchers at Bristol University are developing a system known as UltraHaptics that uses ultrasonic force fields to project the tactile sensations of objects in midair. Currently used for a haptic computer interface, the system might eventually enable touchable holograms. Read More
Our smartphones and tablets may be able to show us what things look and sound like, but with their flat glass screens, there's no way that they could indicate what something feels like ... right? Actually, they may soon be able to do that, too. Researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh have developed a system that lets users' fingertips feel a simulated bump through a flat screen, that corresponds to a bump in the displayed image. Read More
With systems like the Kinect and Leap Motion, controlling a gadget with just the wave of a hand is starting to become much more commonplace. The one drawback to those gesture-based devices however is that you never actually touch anything. No matter what you see on the screen, you're still very aware that you're just moving your hands through the air. The Pittsburg branch of Disney Research may be able to change that with Aireal, a low-cost haptic system which fires out small rings of air that allow people to feel virtual objects. Read More
Unfortunately, there aren't many options available for the visually impaired when it comes to timepieces. While a number of talking watches and braille wristwatches with removable covers are already on the market, those often draw attention to a person's disability. That's why watchmaker Eone's debut timepiece, the Bradley, indicates the time with magnetic ball bearings that can be read subtly by touch. Read More
Can a little silicone dot which attaches over your camera's shutter button really help you take better photos? That's the claim from the makers of the ProDot, a tactile shutter release button which is currently doing the rounds on Kickstarter, and it appears many photographers think it could live up to the promise … because it sailed past its funding target in a matter of days. Read More
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