Researchers develop algorithm for rendering 3-D tactile features on touch surfaces

Oct 07, 2013

A person sliding a finger across a topographic map displayed on a touch screen can feel the bumps and curves of hills and valleys, despite the screen's smooth surface, with the aid of a novel algorithm created by Disney Research, Pittsburgh for tactile rendering of 3D features and textures.

By altering the friction encountered as a person's fingertip glides across a surface, the Disney can create a perception of a 3D bump on a touch surface without having to physically move the surface. The method can be used to simulate the feel of a wide variety of objects and textures.

The algorithm is based on a discovery that when a person slides a finger over a real physical bump, the person perceives the bump largely because lateral friction forces stretch and compress skin on the sliding finger.

"Our brain perceives the 3D bump on a surface mostly from information that it receives via skin stretching," said Ivan Poupyrev, who directs Disney Research, Pittsburgh's Interaction Group. "Therefore, if we can artificially stretch skin on a finger as it slides on the , the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touch screen even though the touch surface is completely smooth."

Disney Research, Pittsburgh researchers will present their findings at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, Oct. 8-11, in St Andrews, Scotland.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

In their experiments, the Disney researchers used electrovibration to modulate the friction between the sliding finger and the touch surface with electrostatic forces. Researchers created and validated a psychophysical model that closely simulates friction forces perceived by the human finger when it slides over a real bump.

The model was then incorporated into an algorithm that dynamically modulates the frictional forces on a sliding finger so that they match the tactile properties of the visual content displayed on the touch screen along the finger's path. A broad variety of visual artifacts thus can be dynamically enhanced with that adjusts as the visual display changes.

"The traditional approach to tactile feedback is to have a library of canned effects that are played back whenever a particular interaction occurs," said Ali Israr, a Disney Research, Pittsburgh research engineer who was the research lead on the project. "This makes it difficult to create a tactile feedback for dynamic visual content, where the sizes and orientation of features constantly change. With our algorithm we do not have one or two effects, but a set of controls that make it possible to tune tactile effects to a specific visual artifact on the fly."

"Touch interaction has become the standard for smartphones, tablets and even desktop computers, so designing algorithms that can convert the visual content into believable tactile sensations has immense potential for enriching the user experience," Poupyrev said. "We believe our algorithm will make it possible to render rich tactile information over visual content and that this will lead to new applications for tactile displays."

Explore further: Continental works on infrared for car multi-touch

More information: www.disneyresearch.com/project/3d-touch-surfaces/

Related Stories

UltraHaptics—it's magic in the air (w/ Video)

Oct 07, 2013

A system that allows users to experience multi-point haptic feedback above an interactive surface without having to touch or hold any device will be unveiled this week [Friday 11 October] at one of the world's ...

Tactile technology guaranteed to send shivers down your spine

Aug 08, 2011

A new tactile technology developed at Disney Research, Pittsburgh (DRP), called Surround Haptics, makes it possible for video game players and film viewers to feel a wide variety of sensations, from the smoothness of a finger ...

Recommended for you

Continental works on infrared for car multi-touch

Dec 23, 2014

Using infrared technology, gesture-control features might find their way into the "affordable" market segment. Automotive supplier Continental, with an eye on the future, is working on intelligent infrared ...

How will Google, Apple shake up car insurance industry?

Dec 22, 2014

Car insurance industry, meet potential disrupters Google and Apple. Currently, nearly all mainstream insurers that offer driver-monitoring programs use relatively expensive devices that plug into a portal under the dashboard. ...

Cyclist's helmet, Volvo car to communicate for safety

Dec 21, 2014

Volvo calls it "a life-saving wearable cycling tech concept." The car maker is referring to a connected car and helmet prototype that enables two-way communication between Volvo drivers and cyclists for proximity ...

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars

Dec 21, 2014

California's Department of Motor Vehicles will miss a year-end deadline to adopt new rules for cars of the future because regulators first have to figure out how they'll know whether "driverless" vehicles ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

TheWalrus
not rated yet Oct 07, 2013
I read about something like this last year or so. The obvious application is Braille touch-screens, but the article I read said that almost any texture can be simulated. The demo created the sensation of pushing marbles around.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.