Scientists created holograms you can touch – you could soon shake a virtual hand – Hypergrid Business

The TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced millions of people to the idea of ​​a holodeck: an immersive, realistic 3D holographic projection of a complete environment that you could interact with and even touch.

Holograms with a sense of touch are being created at Glasgow University. (Picture courtesy Design_cells at Shutterstock via the call.)

In the 21st century, holograms are already being used in a variety of ways, such as medical systems, education, the arts, security, and defense. Researchers are still developing ways to use lasers, modern digital processors, and motion sensor technologies to create several different types of holograms that can change the way we interact.

My colleagues and I, who work in the research group University of Glasgow’s flexible electronics and sensory technologies, have now developed a system of holograms of people using “aerohaptics”, creating feelings of touch with air jets. These air jets give a feeling of touch to people’s fingers, hands and wrists.

Over time, this can evolve so that you can meet a virtual avatar of a colleague on the other side of the world and really feel their handshake. It may even be the first steps towards building something like a holodeck.

To create this touch, we use affordable, commercially available parts to pair computer-generated graphics with carefully directed and controlled air jets.

In some ways, it’s a step beyond the current generation of virtual reality, which usually requires a headset to deliver 3D graphics and smart gloves or handheld controllers to provide haptic feedback, a stimulus that feels like touch. Most portable gadget-based approaches are limited to controlling the virtual object that is displayed.

Controlling a virtual object does not give the feeling that you would experience when two people touch each other. The addition of an artificial touch feeling can deliver the extra dimension without having to wear gloves to feel objects, and therefore feels much more natural.

At the touch of a button, the user can feel a touch that feels like touch. (Photo courtesy University of Glasgow and Ravinder Dahiya via conversation.)

Use of glass and mirrors

Our research uses graphics that give the illusion of a virtual 3D image. It is a modern variation of an illusion technique from the 19th century known as Pepper’s Ghost, which thrilled Victorian theatergoers with visions of the supernatural on stage.

The systems use glass and mirrors to make a two-dimensional image appear to float in space without the need for additional equipment. And our haptic feedback is created with nothing but air.

The mirrors that make up our system are arranged in a pyramidal shape with an open side. Users place their hands through the open page and interact with computer-generated objects that appear to float in free space inside the pyramid. The objects are graphics created and controlled by a software program called Unity Game Engine, which is often used to create 3D objects and worlds in video games.

Located just below the pyramid is a sensor that tracks movements in users’ hands and fingers, and a single air nozzle that directs air jets toward them to create complex touch sensations. The overall system is controlled by electronic hardware programmed to control nozzle movements. We developed an algorithm that enabled the air nozzle to respond to users’ hands with appropriate combinations of direction and force.

One of the ways we have demonstrated the possibilities of the “aerohaptic” system is with an interactive projection of a basketball that can be convincingly touched, rolled and jumped. The touch feedback from air jets from the system 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 the fingertips as they jump on it and a stroke of the palm when it returns.

Users can even push the virtual ball with varying force and sense the resulting difference in how a hard bounce or a soft bounce feels in the palm of the hand. Even something as seemingly simple as jumping with a basketball required us to work hard at modeling the physics of the action and how we could replicate that familiar feeling with air jets.

Scents of the future

While we do not expect to deliver a full Star Trek holodeck experience in the near future, we are already bravely going in new directions to add additional features to the system. Soon we expect to be able to change the temperature of the air stream so that users can feel hot or cold surfaces. We are also exploring the possibility of adding scents to the airflow, deepening the illusion of virtual objects by allowing users to smell and touch them.

As the system expands and develops, we expect it to find applications in a wide range of sectors. Providing more absorbing video game experiences without having to carry cumbersome equipment is obvious, but it can also allow for more compelling teleconferencing. You can even take turns adding components to a virtual circuit board while collaborating on a project.

It can also help clinicians collaborate on treatments for patients and make patients feel more involved and informed in the process. Physicians could see, feel, and discuss the properties of tumor cells and show patients plans for a medical procedure.The conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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