Bringing mid-air haptics to the ‘ultimate display'
Ultrahaptics has announced that it is collaborating with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The collaboration has leveraged Ultrahaptics’ innovative haptics technology to enhance a new undergraduate course during which students learnt to cohesively blend virtual and physical realities, enabling students and users to feel and touch virtual objects and interact with data in new immersive ways.
The course, which has been running since January 2017, is based on Ivan Sutherland’s vision of an “Ultimate Display” - a room that could render data so realistically that it would allow users to interact with information as if it were a real, physical object.
Ultrahaptics has created a technology that allows users to feel virtual shapes, objects, and controls in mid-air, without the need to wear gloves or hold specialised controllers. The haptic sensation is projected directly onto the user’s hand, using modulated ultrasound.
Speaking of the collaboration, Robin Alter, VP of Strategic Partnerships for Ultrahaptics said: “We are delighted to be bringing our technology to the academic community and we are excited to see what the students will develop. A sense of touch is fundamental to how humans interact with, and experience, the physical world".
"However, current virtual and augmented reality applications still lack intuitive tactile feedback, which significantly impacts user experience and the sense of presence. Ultrahaptics’ technology recreates the sense of touch in mid-air, enabling users to reach out and interact naturally, unencumbered by wearables and controllers.”
MIT research affiliate Dr. Daniel Leithinger added: “Virtual and Augmented Reality interfaces have developed rapidly, but current technologies often still lack a key ingredient for building the ultimate display - the ability to physically touch information. I’m excited to see what we will discover as we explore how we can fundamentally expand and enhance the ways in which we interact and communicate with one another using Ultrahaptics’ technology.”