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Touch

Science

Disney tech lets users feel 3D objects on flat screens

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

Science

Ishin-Den-Shin system plays spoken messages through your finger

Forget using tape recorders and smartphones to play back spoken messages – what if you could simply hear them through a finger? Disney researcher Ivan Poupyrev has come up with a system that allows for just that. Using the human body as a sound transmitter, the technology lets you hear audio messages when someone touches your ear with their finger. Even more strikingly, it also lets you hear those spoken messages off the surface of any ordinary object you might touch, like a knife or a ring. Read More

Home Entertainment

Philips gets touchy about remote control buttons

Even before the addition of touchpads, remote controls were pushing the boundaries in terms of size as more and more features were crammed into home entertainment devices and more and more buttons were needed to deal with them. Philips’ remote control division has come up with a way to keep the size of touch-capable remotes down by making the buttons touch sensitive.Read More

Computers

Flexible sensor could lead to better artificial skin

Using gold nanoparticles on top of a PVC substrate, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have built a new type of cheap, flexible sensor that simultaneously detects pressure, humidity and temperature with surprising accuracy. The sensor could be used to monitor cracks in bridges, create a better artificial skin to benefit amputees, or even to give robots that special "human touch."Read More

Robotics

New sensor designed to give robots a gentler touch – on a budget

A lot of time and energy is currently going into developing technologies that give robots a sense of touch. In particular, scientists are developing things like artificial skin that lets robots know how much pressure they’re exerting on an object – this allows them to firmly grip rugged objects, while being more delicate with fragile items. Although most such technologies are fairly complex and expensive, researchers have now developed a cheap tactile sensor that could bring touch sensitivity to consumer and hobbyist applications.Read More

Electronics

Magic Finger turns any surface into a touch interface

A trip on public transport or to the local coffee shop might give the impression that touchscreens are everywhere, but scientists at Autodesk Research of the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto are looking to take the ubiquity of touch interfaces to the next level. They are developing a “Magic Finger” that allows any surface to detect touch input by shifting the touch technology from the surface to the wearer’s finger. Read More

VR

Disney Research's gloveless REVEL system adds virtual textures to physical objects

Having long been successful with "talkies," Disney has developed technology that could allow the creation of "feelies." While designed more for touchscreens than the silver screen, the REVEL system developed at Disney Research uses reverse electrovibration to bring computerized control over the sense of touch, thereby allowing programmers to change the feel of real-world surfaces and objects without requiring users to wear special gloves or use force-feedback devices.Read More

Robotics

Tactile robot finger outperforms humans in identifying textures

We’ve seen the development of a number of technologies that could be used to provide robots with a sense of touch, such as proximity and temperature sensing hexagonal plates and artificial skin constructed from semiconductor nanowires. However, perhaps none are as impressive as a tactile sensor developed by researchers at the University of California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. The group’s BioTac sensor was built to mimic a human fingertip and can outperform humans in identifying a wide range of materials, offering potential use for the technology in robotics and prostheses. Read More

Wearables

Glove with vibrating fingertip enhances user's sense of touch

Studies have shown that with the right amount of white noise in the background, peoples’ sight, hearing, balance control and sense of touch improve. Utilizing stochastic resonance, which is the principle at work in white noise, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered that the sense of touch can also be improved by applying vibrations to a person’s finger. They have been testing a glove that incorporates a prototype fingertip-buzzing device, that could ultimately lead to products worn by people with nerve damage, or whose jobs require exceptional manual dexterity.Read More

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