Ultrasound creates holograms you can see and feel

AUTHOR: Inavate

A team of researchers at the UK’s University of Bristol have taken haptic feedback systems a step further by creating a prototype where 3D objects can be both felt and seen. By using an ultrasound array to create haptic feedback in mid-air, with varying oscillations between 0.4 Hz to 500 Hz, the shape of an invisible object can be felt. When the array is directed at a thin film of oil, the shapes can also be visualised.

InAVate reported on the University’s progress on the project last year. This prototype, and similar systems such as Disney’s AIREAL which uses controlled puffs of air, could potentially add another dimension to 3D displays. In step that brings this closer to reality, the research team have also shown that users can match a picture of a 3D shape to the shape created by the system.

“Touchable holograms, immersive virtual reality that you can feel and complex touchable controls in free space, are all possible ways of using this system,” Dr Ben Long, research assistant from the Bristol Interaction and Graphics (BIG) group in the Department of Computer Science.
“In the future, people could feel holograms of objects that would not otherwise be touchable, such as feeling the differences between materials in a CT scan or understanding the shapes of artefacts in a museum.”