Touching through a screen: a new threat for physical stores
Why do we still go to physical stores for buying clothes instead of buying everything online? Online shopping is easy, it saves time and money, and it is efficient in the way that we can see the whole collection of a shop in just a couple of mouse clicks. One of the remaining advantages of going to a store instead of online shopping is the fact that we can really feel the texture of the clothes. However, a new innovation will soon make it possible that even for this we don’t have to leave our houses anymore.
The new technology is being developed by Disney Research, amongst others, and is based on a tactile rendering algorithm that makes it possible to not only see things on a touchscreen but also to touch them, to really feel them. The movie at the bottom of this blog shows more details about the technology, but in short it is a technology that creates a difference in the friction forces, which will create an illusion for the brain. When friction-sensitive mechanoreceptors in the skin touch the screen, the brain will think that we are touching a surface with relief instead of a flat touchscreen,
The innovation is now tested on maps, so that humans can feel a difference in height through a flat screen. In the future it can also be used by web shops, allowing customers to feel the fabric of the clothes. If we want to know if something is of good material, if it is soft or hard, we will just have to touch the screen and find out! The question is now whether this will change our shopping behaviour, if it will be a serious threat for physical shops or if it is just an addition to online shopping? Only time will tell.
Kim, S.C., Israr, A., Poupyrev, I. (2013) ‘Tactile Rendering of 3D Features of Touch Surfaces’ (http://www.disneyresearch.com/project/3d-touch-surfaces/)
http://wordlesstech.com/2013/10/10/tactile-rendering-3d-features/, September 22, 2014.