Home / Blog / Touching a ghost

Touching a ghost

Haptic interfaces have been evolving rapidly becoming more and more accurate. Their applications vary, from video gaming (I got an haptic force feedback joystick several years ago to play flight simulator….) to professional areas, like surgery training with an haptic scalpel simulating the forces one would encounters when cutting a specific tissue.
However, so far, haptic required to touch a solid surface connected to a motor providing the force feedback or a vibrating surface (like a layer on a screen) to convey tactile sensations.
Now researchers at the Bristol University Computer Science Dept have published a paper illustrating a new way to create a haptic sensation based on ultrasounds.
The haptic sensation is created by beaming and focussing ultrasounds in a 3D space. This creates an air turbulence that looks like a ghost and you can feel it with your hands.
An image is displayed on a screen and you can touch and feel the texture of that displayed object by hovering your hands on the ghost image.
The researchers hope this might give doctors a better understanding of an MRI radiography by letting them actually touch the virtual creation of the rogan scanned.
They also foresees the device as a way to let people touch a museum masterpiece without the risk of ruining it and to provide a way to actually touch an hologram…
The line separating bits and atoms is getting thinner and thinner….

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.