'Real feel' interactive display technology
EU-funded research is pushing the boundaries of reality with a programme to develop 3D digital display technology using floating objects that look, feel and even sound like the real thing.
© immimagery #209626466, 2019 source:stock.adobe.com
Keyboards, mice and other physical ways of communicating with computers are gradually giving way to touchscreen, voice commands and even touchless interaction. But with these developments, many users miss the mechanics of pressing keys or sensing vibrations as they enter information.
The EU-funded LEVITATE project is creating, prototyping and evaluating a radical new form of human-computer interaction to create displays through which users can feel, manipulate and even hear three-dimensional objects appearing to float in space.
In our vision, the computer can control the existence, form, and appearance of complex levitating objects, notes the LEVITATE team. Users will be able to reach into the floating matter and receive realistic feedback from the object mid-air.
But how does this essentially virtual interaction take on physical dimensions?
The science draws on advances in ultrasound beam-forming and controlling techniques to create acoustic forces that can levitate particles, provide audio cues, and at the same time generate tactile feedback when the user manipulates the floating objects.
Synchronising these sensory processes is by no means an easy task. Focused ultrasound will be used to create haptic pressure points that can be touched and felt in mid-air, thus providing the feedback users want. Visuals will also be projected onto the objects to create a rich, multi-modal display resembling real-life objects as closely as possible.
To achieve all this, LEVITATE researchers are breaking new ground in a number of areas with floating widgets and particle displays, as well as textured haptic displays and applications for different sectors from food delivery and touchless tactile signage to virtual reality rhythm games.