Microsoft shows off 3D touchscreen that 'touches' back

 

Microsoft have shown off a new touchscreen that mimics how physical objects feel by offering ‘tactile feedback’ to users.

The new research is the latest in what is known as haptic technology – hardware that takes advantage of the feeling of touch by offering feedback via pressure or vibration. As described on the Microsoft blog haptic technology “[does] for the sense of touch what computer graphics does for vision.” 

The new project uses a touchscreen with a robotic arm to adjust how ‘hard’ different surfaces feel to the user. When a person touches one of the objects displayed (the demo had cubes made from different materials – stone and sponge), the screen responds, tracking what the user is touching and pushing back against them.

"The force-feedback monitor responds to convey the sensation of different materials:  The stone block “feels” hard to the touch and requires more force to push, while the sponge block is soft and easy to push."

This returned pressure is combined with more standard 3D screen technology, that tracks the user and adjusts at what angle and size the object is displayed on screen to give the illusion of depth. Combining this with the touch feedback is enough “for your brain to accept the virtual world as real,” said Microsoft engineer Michel Pahud.

Developed by a group of engineers at Microsoft’s research center in Redmond, the team behind the project hope that the new technology could have uses in the medical profession, with the possibility of using haptic feedback to help navigate large stores of data for doctors:

“I could see an image of the front of a brain,” says Pahud, “and pushing a finger through the layers of the brain to travel through the data. I could imagine receiving haptic feedback when you encountered an anomaly, such as a tumor, because we can change the haptic response based on what you touch.”

“You could have different responses for when you touch soft tissue versus hard tissue, which makes for a very rich experience.”

To confirm that the users were really responding to the touch feedback, rather than simply the visual, the team even blindfolded a team of volunteers.

“I was impressed with how many people got the shapes,” says Pahud “There were even some subjects who were 100 per cent correct. That was definitely a surprise.”

Of course, Microsoft isn’t the only company working on new forms of haptic feedback. Disney Research launched their own technology named TeslaTouch back in 2010 that creates a “broad range of tactile sensations on touchscreens.

Instead of using mechanical motion as in Microsoft’s project, Disney’s TeslaTouch generates minor electric fields in the screen that create friction by attracting the individual’s finger or hand by varying degrees.

Other innovations have included Tactus Technology – a new technology that inserts a layer of fluid underneath touch screens that can bubble up to instant buttons.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'