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UltraHaptics though a young company has a big dream: It wants to change the way people interact with electronic devices.
Their technology creates tactile three-dimensional shapes literally out of thin air, using ultrasound.
Through an emission of sound waves, sensations are projected through the air and to the user.
Changes in air pressure are perceived as suspended tactile surfaces, creating invisible — but tangible — interfaces.
This already sounds quite interesting, but paired with another rising technology it has the potential to become a game changer.
But this is not alone. The rising tide of virtual reality seems unstoppable: Facebook’s Oculus Rift and Magic Leap are leading the pack, but several other companies are readying devices in a field that could shake the foundations of electronic entertainment.
But even though it is impossible to think it to be convincing, virtual reality completely bypasses the sense of touch: applying UltraHaptics’ technology to it would allow users to not just see the virtual world projected in front of their eyes, but to touch it as well.
Haptics is more than just the sense of touch. Experts say, smartphones and other popular devices could also see benefits: controlling appliances in the kitchen, using TVs and computers in a style reminiscent of the movie Minority report, or even snoozing the alarm in the morning would all become just a matter of waving your hands.
Several devices can already be controlled with gestures, but UltraHaptics add an extra layer of feedback, by generating the sensation of a force field: Haptics is more than just the sense of touch. It’s really all of the information that user get from the sense of touch. What he is feeling, what sort of pressure, the tactile sensation given by an object or surface. A person can also know where his limbs are and how they’re moving, all from the sense of touch. It’s all this information that cues how user is interacting with the world.
To create their invisible buttons, UltraHaptics use a small collection of ultrasonic speakers, concentrating the sound waves to a specific point.
Sound travels through air by creating a pressure differential, so by focusing several of these differentials to a target location, the result is a single localized spot of high pressure.
Other companies are also working on similar projects, such as Elliptic Labs, and the interest around the technology already appears to be strong.
UltraHaptics, have already built several prototypes and have demoed the technology to the public at the last CES in Las Vegas,.
The company officials say, they are working with 15 to 20 clients who are looking to incorporate tactile ultrasound into their products.