Features > Telco & Media
Beyond Virtual Technology, Virtual Tactile Technology

The ten most promising technologies chosen by Korea Institute of Science & Technology Evaluation and Planning include diagnostics using smartphones, Beacon, medical big data, vacuum insulation, and biostamp. These are some of the technologies that most of you must have heard of. Among the ten technologies on the list, virtual tactile technology caught my eyes the most.

Though virtual tactile technology is not in the spotlight at the moment, it’s being studied actively in its related field. This technology is expected to be useful especially in e-commerce, education, and marketing. I’d like to introduce you to the world of virtual tactile technology which suggests a new paradigm to the existing virtual technology.

The ten most promising technologies introduced on the LG CNS blog

Definition of Virtual Tactile Technology

Virtual tactile technology can be defined in two different ways depending on where the focus is placed.

Focusing on the tactile information being delivered to users, virtual tactile technology refers to hardware, software, and cognitive psychological technology designed to deliver information to users through the sense of touch.

If you focus on the communication between the device and the user, however, it means a field of research about technology that helps communication between users and computer/machines through tactile impressions.

The notion of development for virtual tactile technology also follows these two aspects. Now let’s take a look at a couple of cases.

Virtual Tactile Technologies for Users’ Tactile Experience

Tesla Touch: Single screen, multiple tactile sensations

Tesla Touch, which is considered the text book for virtual tactile technology, was developed by American engineer Olivier Bau in 2010. He says Tesla Touch is technology through which we can feel various textures at our fingertips. This means we can feel different textures on different parts of a single screen.

The picture below shows how this technology works. The touch screen presents images of various materials. If you touch the upper left part of the screen you’ll feel the texture of sand, but when you move your hand to the lower right, you’ll feel the rough surface of metal.

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How Tesla Touch works (Source: http://www.olivierbau.com/teslatouch.php)

Tesla Touch has been implemented for diverse uses such as maps, characters in video games, and fabric in graphic design. Olivier also led other various projects related to tactile experiences, and you can learn more about him on his website, which is listed as the image source above.

The world’s first tactile mouse implemented with Korean technology in 2013

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Tactile mouse (Source: Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, http://www.kriss.re.kr/index.do)

Korea’s virtual tactile technology also shows great prospects. KRISS (Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science) announced in June, 2013 that they developed a special mouse through which one can feel the textures of virtual objects. This mouse has a touch screen for a finger on its left, and this finger can feel the texture of what’s on the screen once the cursor’s put on the desired part of the screen,

The reason this mouse is considered special is because it can implement multiple tactile information such as friction, temperature, solidity, and roughness at once. For example, if you put cursor on top of a lake on the screen, you’ll feel the sensation as if your finger is in the cool and rolling water. This is the first time such a small device, which implements over four types of tactile information at once, has been created.

This amazing tactile mouse is planned to be used in order to enrich our daily lives. Imagine those great changes in our lives such as being able to touch artifacts in museums that you can’t touch in person or to feel the fabric when buying clothes online.

Virtual Tactile Technology Providing Better Communication between Users and Devices

BumpTop: No more boring desktop screens

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Spreading files on BumpTop (Source: http://www.wired.com)

BumpTop is technology that began as a fun idea from an Indian University student named Anand Agarawala. Anand was bored with his simple desktop icon arrangement. What he noticed at that moment was his messy desk, and he started studying how to make his desktop screen look more like his real desk. The result was BumpTop.

BumpTop is three-dimensional software in which you can create and manage files and folders. As you see in the picture, files on the desktop are either piled on top of each other in the corner or scattered around as they usually are on our real desks. The laws of physics we are familiar with in real life also apply on BumpTop: If you take one file and bump it to another pile of files, they will be pushed to the other side of the screen.

With BumpTopthat implemented virtual tactile technology, users can communicate with computers more intuitively. Files that users are unhappy with can be crumpled or folded simply by touching the screen. They can also be piled on top of each other or spread out in a fan shape, and they can even be enlarged while being stored. You can get more interesting details on BumpTop through the video clip below from Ted.

  • BumpTop (Source: Ted, Rethink the desktop with BumpTop)

BumpTop started as a venture business with $1.65 million from Anand and 15 of his colleagues, and managed to grow by 15 times its original value. In 2010, Google bought BumpTop recognizing their valuable work. We’ll be seeing a lot more of their work.

inFORM moves objects beyond their space restraints

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Moving a ball using inFORM (Source: MIT’s Tangible Media Group)

Tangible Media Group from MIT created inFORM and introduced us to the future of tactile interaction between users and machines. This inspiring device detects a user’s movements and reproduces them in 3D. With inFORM, the movement has a physical existence and is able to touch other objects. It also uses telecommunication technology so one can move objects remotely even when away from the device.

In order to make this possible, a projector and camera in front of the user collect data on the user’s movements and send it to the computer. The inFORM table, the part rematerializing the data, is made of 900 pins and have motors to make them go up and down according to the signal.

This entire process is done through the actuator on the bottom of the inFORM table and the grid, a computer linkage system. The final result made by all these parts appear as fluid three-dimensional movements covered with the light from the projector.

  • Tangible Media (Source: YouTube, Amazing Technology Invented By MIT – Tangible Media)

The inFORM technology is expected to be used in diverse fields including helping the visually impaired people who want to understandart and objects better.

As we’ve seen today, virtual tactile technology has gone beyond just implementing texture for users and reaching further so that users can utilize it for other various purposes. This is the reason why global IT companies are focusing on virtual technology and making large investments.

What would it be like if we could feel the texture and smell of an object on a computer screen? Would the world from Matrix become a reality? Take a moment and imagine a future with virtual tactile technology.

Written by Taerim Choi, University student reporter for LG CNS

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  • Mariana Nichols

    Great Blog. I think very useful for all people. keep up the great posts! You can also log on Holocube for 3D Advertising.

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