Disney researchers showed off REVEL at Siggraph 2012, a new computer interface that changes your tactile perception when touching everyday objects using a weak electric signal fed through your entire body. This piece of technology enables sensations to be induced when the wearer touches a computer screen, walls, furniture, plastic or wooden objects, and even other people. Users do not have to be directly connected to REVEL via electrodes, the technology can be embedded in a chair, a shoe, or the casing of a touchscreen, and can still pass safely into the user's body.
Full details at TechnologyReview.
The Disney interface exploits a tactile effect known as "reverse electrovibration," and has been dubbed REVEL. An imperceptible electrical signal is introduced across the user's whole body to create an oscillating electrostatic field around the skin. When touching a physical object, such as a tablet screen, that shares a common electrical ground with the REVEL signal generator, an electrostatic force modulates the friction between the sliding finger and the object to create the sensation of a texture.
"Sight and sound are important, but we believe the addition of touch can create a really unique and magical experience," says Olivier Bau, lead researcher on the REVEL project. "Instead of making objects and devices simulate tactile effect, we are changing your feeling of the real world. We are altering human perception. The rest of the world remains passive."