Prototype laser setup lets users 'feel' remote objects

A team of researchers from Japan's University of Tsukuba demonstrates what they can do with haptics by letting users "feel" a remote object.

laser range finder system
Crave Asia

Most of us are familiar with haptics on touch-screen phones. The feedback technology uses vibrating pulses to replace the tactility of, for example, pressing a physical button. At the recent computer graphics event Siggraph Asia 2009, a team of researchers from Japan's University of Tsukuba demonstrated what they can do with haptics by letting users "feel" a remote object.

The prototype system comprises a laser range finder, computer, and haptics generator. By placing the device on a glass casing (we are very familiar with this as many companies like to put their prototype devices in a see-no-touch environment) and using the laser to measure the distance from the panel to the actual object, the user can "feel" the latter via the pulses that are generated.

According to the literature (PDF), the reaction force is determined by the distance between the handheld device and the actual object. Users supposedly can feel details such as texture when the magnification factor is increased. The researchers say the system can be used for educating viewers valuable exhibits and inspection of engineering products. We just want to get one of these before we attend another mega-scale event like CES.

(Source: Crave Asia)

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