Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created a way to give feel to games by using ultrasonic waves to form "shapes" in air.
Takayuki Iwamoto and colleagues from the University of Tokyo have now demonstrated a simple haptic device that employs a number of ultrasonic transducers, which emit ultrasound.
Sound is a pressure wave, meaning that as the inaudible sound waves from each of the transducers interfere, they can create a focal point that is perceived as a solid object.
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.
At the moment, the system provides a small force only in the vertical dimension, but the team is improving the geometry of the array and the amount of power it can produce so that future devices will provide a stiffer feel and more contoured objects.