Games Enter Feelie Era?

There have been a few different haptic research stories over the past few months, but the one featured in this BBC report seems to be the most promising and the most impressive. It’s a device being developed by the University of Tokyo which uses ultrasound to create a perceptible “solid” object in thin air.

The team’s prototype system includes a camera which tracks the position of a user’s hand and shifts the output from the transducers to move the focus around with the hand. The result is a feeling of tracing the edge or surface of the virtual object.

Bizarre and inconclusive video demonstration after the jump.


  1. Schtee says:

    Video was a bit quiet. Could use more eurohouse.

    But yes. This seems pretty funky. Sadly one of those things to which video gives no indication the extent of its workiness. Sadly.

  2. K says:

    Combine with this?

  3. groovychainsaw says:

    I give it 2 weeks until someone licences this technology for virtual boobs. 2 weeks, I tell ya… ;-)

  4. Cedge says:

    Hah. That’s pretty nifty, but the problem is that it only works in one direction. As in, if he tried to feel around the bottom of that teapot, it wouldn’t work at all. So, unless you had these emitters surrounding your hand, that’s not possible.

    Still, pretty cool. But wouldn’t that piss off dogs to no end?

  5. Alex says:

    Still, pretty cool. But wouldn’t that piss off dogs to no end?

    Ooh! This thing keeps getting better and better!

  6. bitkari says:

    One step closer to a working holodeck!

  7. Gene says:

    wow, pretty interesting, but video is kind of inadequate – to really know what it can do you would have to test it in person.
    I wonder if this will catch on.

  8. Swabbleflange says:

    Application? Games where you pat things on the head. Little kids, dogs, whatever. The possibilities are endless.

    I really wanted to see what would happen if the demonstrator let go of the piece of paper. Very disappointed.

  9. Raptornas says:

    Oh come on people we all know what this is going to be used for.

    Virtual Titties.

  10. Zeno says:

    I’m tempted to call bullshit. The video barely showed any evidence that it’s working as intended.

    Why did they only touch the little knob on top of the teapot? Why not trace the whole thing to show us that it’s actually working?

  11. Cedge says:

    They’re not claiming that this creates some sort of forcefield that lets you feel all around a virtual shape in midair. It’s quite clear that the force only moves in one direction, hence, you can only feel around the “top” of an “object.”

  12. Nilocy says:

    Wow, think when they get the 3d version working… You could pick up things in the air and move them about… Like a cup, or a hat… or something :D And yes, it is one more step closer to the holodeck. Can’t wait to see where this is going!

  13. Gene says:

    still, a “top” of a “boob” is all we need, eh?:)
    but seriously, I can see no problem in setting like 4 or 8 of those and feel every side of given object

  14. noggin says:

    when is “Tiny Teapot” due for release?

  15. Nick says:

    “We have footage, too alarming to show you, of a little boy being interfered with by a penis-shaped soundwave generated by an online paedophile.”

    Brass Eye predicts the future?

  16. rei says:

    I shouldn’t laugh.

  17. DSX says:

    You can go to California and touch the tea pot for real.

  18. Óli says:

    Why the hell didn’t they drop a cloth on this thing? Looks kind of iffy…

  19. deyardly says:

    Well, setting them around in a circle or something an imagining that this would work to create a thorough 3d version of the object in empty air is all fine and dandy, but doesn’t it come to a rather depressing conclusion when actually considering it?

    I mean, imagine setting up 4 of these bad boys 2 for top and bottom, and 2 for left and right (as an example). Touching the right side of the object would then interfere with the emitter sending ultrasounds from the right side, and creating the left side of the IE. teapot causing the emitters ultrasound waves to respond to your hand, thus thinking you were actually touching both the right and left side of an object, with the palm and the back of your hand?

    Or, does the camera handle this, and I’m emitting hot vapours of stupidity?

  20. luphisto says:

    looks pretty interesting.. might be able to make a type of “omni tool” like from mass effect one day..

  21. Aidan says:

    I would not use this, ultrasound can still damage your hearing even though you cannot hear it. I don’t fancy having to game wearing ear defenders!

  22. brad pitt says:

    wtf i can see her fingers movin the paper what a load of teapots

  23. psyk says:

    Brass Eye what a show, would you like some cake and Brad could you make a vid and upload it to youtube where you make the card from the back of rizla do that with out moving your fingers?