Tag Archives: leap motion

(c) Bristol University, UK

Human-computer interface relays touch out of thin air

(c) Bristol University, UK

(c) Bristol University, UK

Using ultrasound radiation, researchers at University of Bristol (UK) have devised a computer interface that basically allows users to interact with a digital screen without touching it. Sure the Kinect or Leap Motion does this already, the catch is that this system also provides haptic (touch) feedback. So, whenever a user traces a motion in front of the system, not only does the system react, it also relays feedback to the users which senses it as touch. The device was unveiled this week at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Scotland.

Dubbed, UltraHaptics the researchers claim the system’s main advantage is that it allows the user to “feel” what is on the screen.

“UltraHaptics uses the principle of acoustic radiation force where a phased array of ultrasonic transducers is used to exert forces on a target in mid-air,” Co-developer Tom Carter explained. “Haptic sensations are projected through a screen and directly onto the user’s hands.”

The system works by means of an ultrasound transducer array positioned beneath an acoustically transparent display, which doesn’t interfere with the haptic interaction. The multiple transducers join together and collectively emit very high frequency sound waves. When all of the sound waves meet at the same location at the same time, they create sensations on the skin. By creating multiple simultaneous feedback points, and giving them individual tactile properties, users can receive localized feedback associated to their actions. A LeapMotion device is used to relay hand movements.

Finally, the research team explored three new areas of interaction possibilities that UltraHaptics can provide: mid-air gestures, tactile information layers and visually restricted displays, and created an application for each.

A video demonstration of the UltraHaptic system can be viewed below.

Tom Carter, PhD student in the Department of Computer Science’s BIG research group, said: “Current systems with integrated interactive surfaces allow users to walk-up and use them with bare hands. Our goal was to integrate haptic feedback into these systems without sacrificing their simplicity and accessibility.

“To achieve this, we have designed a system with an ultrasound transducer array positioned beneath an acoustically transparent display. This arrangement allows the projection of focused ultrasound through the interactive surface and directly onto the users’ bare hands. By creating multiple simultaneous feedback points, and giving them individual tactile properties, users can receive localised feedback associated to their actions.”

UltraHaptics: Multi-Point Mid-Air Haptic Feedback for Touch Surfaces, Thomas Carter, Sue Ann Seah, Benjamin Long, Bruce Drinkwater, Sriram Subramanian, UIST 2013, 8-11 October, St Andrews, UK.

elon musk spaceX

SpaceX’s Elon Musk presents Iron Man-like engineering lab

elon musk spaceX

Founder of Paypal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, Elon Musk has gained the reputation of a brilliant entrepreneur and engineer. By many he’s viewed as a real life Tony Stark, a comic book and, most recently, Hollywood blockbuster character better known by his Iron Man persona.

Musk in many respects,  in my humble opinion at least, is actually more able than Stark. From an ethical point of view, Stark is quite despicable. While Stark chose to continue his family legacy acquiring a vast fortune from weapons manufacturing, Musk raised his billions through high-risk businesses on a mission to better humanity, a business model few people choose to follow. Then, Musk is real, whereas Stark is pure fiction. Clearly, Musk tops Iron Man, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t take inspiration from the comic strip super hero.

Recently, Musk showcased how he hopes high-end engineering at SpaceX will take place in the near future. Combining currently existing technology like Leap Motion, Oculus Rift and precision metal 3D printing Musk’s team have set-up a virtual lab that might change the way engineers design anything from spacecraft to buildings to proteins. If you saw any of the Iron Man movies, then you’ll reminisce.

[READ] SpaceX founder envisions 80,000 people colony on Mars

Musk reasons that we interact with current technology in a 2D frame to create 3D objects. In typical engineering projects, like say designing spacecraft components, engineers first need to figure out how to manipulate their software environment so they might render what is already in their heads.

Musk presents what he calls a more natural approach to designing. Using the Leap Motion, on which I wrote extensively before, and the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality hand-set, SpaceX has develop a highly interesting environment, which can be used either with a typical PC display, a projector and even on a transparent glass surface, exactly like in Iron Man. I his demo, Musk showcased the tech by manipulating SpaceX’s Merlin engine, and to top things out, he used a metal 3D printer to create on of the engine’s parts, effectively pulling it from the virtual environment into reality.

Check out the presentation below.


So, what do you guys think?