Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada have developed floor tiles that can simulate the look, sound and feel of snow, grass or pebbles underfoot. Such a tool could perhaps be used for augmented reality applications, tele-presence, training, rehabilitation or even as virtual foot controllers.
The modular “haptic” floor tiling system is made up of a deformable plate suspended on a platform. Between the plate and platform are sensors that detect forces from the user’s foot. And the plate can give off vibrations that mimic the feeling of stepping on different materials. A top-down projection and speakers add visual and audio feedback.
A long-distant precursor of an essential component for the the StarTrek holodeck, perhaps?
The folks at Technology Review have run up a top ten of futurismic display/interface combos, all on display at SIGGRAPH 2009, I particularly like the haptic holography from researchers at the University of Tokyo:
The virtual objects appear in mid-air thanks to an LCD and a concave mirror. The sensation of touching the objects is created using an ultrasound device positioned below the LCD and mirror.
It’ll be interesting to see whether people end up using more traditional haptic devices like gloves and goggles combinations, or choose something based on holography and sound waves.
Also note that Wii remotes are used as off-the-shelf sensors, the street, or academia, finds its own use for things.
Wonderful haptic jacket being developed at Phillips Electronics, from Physorg:
Paul Lemmens, a Philips senior scientist, explains that the jacket isn’t meant to make viewers feel the actual punches and blows that the actors are receiving on the screen. Rather, the intentions are more subtle.
The jacket’s purpose is to make viewers feel anxiety and other emotions through signals such as sending a shiver up the viewer’s spine, creating tension in the limbs, and creating a pulse on the chest to simulate a rapid heartbeat.