Next level of gesture based interface: Ultrahaptics, the new tactical interface

Have you ever imagined how things would be in the future based on Sci-fi movies? Take a look at this short clip from the movie Minority Report of Tom Cruise (2002).

In this movie clip, gesture-based computing was shown. Back in the days, we would have never thought that swiping gestures could make an interaction with a system. Recently, researchers have even developed a new technology called Ultrahaptics. This takes the gesture based interface to another level.

What is Ultrahaptics?
Ultrahaptics is a device that makes invisible objects in mid-air that you can touch and manipulate. The device is using ultrasound that reflects air pressure waves off a user’s hand. This way, it will create the illusion that you are actually feeling objects or let you move around an object on the screen (Ultrahaptics, 2015). A fascinating thing about the technology is that it does not require the user to wear any gear or equipment to be able to use the interface (like in the movie Minority Report). The technology just uses the combination of hardware and the accompany software (Ackerman, 2015).

A useful technological development?   
The possibilities for such interface are endless. It could provide real-time tactile feedback while watching a movie or playing a game. It also could change the way we shop online and eliminate the struggles we are facing. For instance, making it possible to feel fabrics and avoid the need to visit the real store. Perhaps one day couples could even send each other sensations from afar and long distance relationship is not something to be considered anymore.
Recently, Ultrahaptics is already working with Jaguar Land Rover for a mid-air touch system to be implemented into the infotainment screen. It is supposed to increase the speed and efficiency of the interaction between the driver and the screen. As this will reduce the driver distraction by minimizing the amount of time the driver’s eyes are on the screen, it will help with increasing driver safety (Techspark, 2015).

Due to the rapid technological development, techs in futuristic movies that we always imagine could be applied in everyday scenarios. In my opinion, it will be very interesting technology to keep an eye on it. It has great potential like many developmental technologies, but whether we will actually see it often in future systems is still to be determined.

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Ackerman, E. (2015) ‘CES 2015: Ultrahaptics’ Ultrasonic Tactile Display for Virtual Controls’ , 8 January 2015

Techspark (2015) ‘Ultrahapics to provide mid-air haptic touch system for Jaguar Land rovers’, , 30 September 2015

Ultrahaptics (2015), 2015


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