Don’t just touch it, feel it!

Sunday, December 4th, 2011 by Roberto Saracco

Haptic is progressing towards providing more real life sensations. Such is the case with the technology developed by EPFL researchers. Take a look:

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne have invented a way to create tactile sensation on special surfaces that can change their shape. Imagine touching a touch screen and feeling the texture of the object you see under your fingertips or moving your fingers on your touchpad and feeling resistance to movement…

Where is the trick?

The researchers have inserted between two transparent layers nano particles that vibrate once activated by an electrical current. Their vibrations create a movement of the surface of a few microns, something that is too tiny to be felt by your fingertips. However, the vibrations of the surface create a movement in the air and your fingertips are tricked by feeling these movements.

By changing the intensity and frequency of the electrical stimulation one can create different vibration patterns and these in turns create different displace of the air. Basically, all sensation our fingertips are able to pick up can be recreated.

So let’s get ready for a whole new feeling when touching a screen. It will no longer feel like touching a glass surface but like touching that what is being displayed at that particular time, an orange, a lake or the cheek of your kids.


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