Researchers at the University of Glasgow have developed a system that uses air jets known as “aerohaptics” to allow users to physically feel a hologram.
“Those jets of air deliver a sensation of touch on people’s fingers, hands, and wrists,” researcher Ravinder Daahiya wrote in The Conversation. “In the future, you may be able to meet a virtual avatar of a colleague on the other side of the world and actually feel their handshake. It could even be the first steps toward creating something akin to a holodeck.”
The invention consists of a nozzle that blows air at an appropriate force onto the user in response to their hand movements. Daahiya and his team tested their new system with an interactive basketball projection. They discovered that the ball could be convincingly touched, rolled, and bounced.
The touch feedback from the system’s air jets is also modulated based on the virtual surface of the basketball, allowing users to feel the rounded shape of the ball as it rolls from their fingertips when they bounce it and the slap in their palm when it returns, according to Daahiya.
The researchers are now working on changing the temperature of the airflow so that users can feel hot or cold surfaces, as well as investigating the possibility of adding scents to the airflow. All of these factors will contribute to a more realistic immersive experience.
According to Daahiya, the new holographic technology could lead to better video games without the need for bulky suits, as well as more convincing teleconferencing. He also claims that his invention can be used by doctors to improve patient care by allowing them to feel a tumor, for example.