This little device is about the size of a webcam, and it perches on top of your computer monitor in much the same way. It’s Disney’s solution to haptic feedback for gestural input. That is to say, wave your hands in the air to control a computer, and this will give you some sense of actually touching the virtual objects.
The thing shoots toroids of air at the user. We thought the best example of how this is used is the soccer ball demo in the video. A game is being played where virtual soccer balls are launched toward the user. The rig shoots out a puff of air to go along with each ball. When you get your hand in the right place you’ll feel the vortex of air and know you’ve made contact with the virtual object.
On the hardware side this is just begging to be recreated in your basement. What we have here is a 3D printed enclosure that has six sides. Five of them have speaker elements that create pressure waves when given an electrical signal. When coordinated they cause a perfect ring vortex (think cigar smoke ring) to shoot out the flexible nozzle which can be aimed thanks to a gimbal setup. Of course the element that makes it interactive is a 3D camera, which could be a Kinect or Leap Motion when built in the home workshop.
Continue reading “Disney prototype adds haptic feedback to gestural interface”
Many people with hearing impairments have assistive devices at home that flash a light whenever a fire truck goes by, an alarm bell goes off, or the doorbell rings. With the exception of a hearing dog, these devices are useless outside the home, and this is where [Halley]‘s Flutter dress comes into play. Flutter has microphones and microcontrollers sewn into the dress to listen to the surrounding environment and uses small vibration motors to wave small cloth leaflets whenever a loud sound is detected.
In the writeup for Flutter (PDF), [Halley] tells us she used a quartet of microcontrollers to detect the ambient acoustic environment. Each microcontroller passes the signal from the microphone into a buffer where it performs an FFT on the sound data. From this, the loudness and frequency of a noise – as well as the direction from a time-of-flight calculation – can be determined. Once that is complete, each microcontroller actuates a small vibrator motor in the dress’ leafs according to how loud and in which direction the sound came from.
As with all assistive technologies for the hearing impaired, there is always the aspect of deaf culture’s point of view that such inventions are seen as forcing a disability on someone. [Halley]‘s Flutter dress was with the input of a few family members who have hearing impairments and got some positive feedback from members of the community. Good job, and we can see why it won Best in Show at the 2012 International Symposium on Wearable Computer’s Design Exhibition.
[Diego] wrote in to let us know about the haptic feedback arm project with which he’s hard at work. He calls it the Vimphin, which is uses the beginning letters from the words: Virtual Manipulator Physical Interface. Instead of a claw, the robot arm has a hand grip that lets you easily move it around. That is unless the virtual model of the arm encounters a dense substance, and then it’s going to be more difficult to move.
The test arm seen above includes several high quality robotic servo motors. You probably know that servo motors have feedback circuits that let them sense their position, and this is what is used to detect when a user moves the arm. This movement is tracked in the virtual 3D environment seen on the screen. In this case, the base of the robot is sitting in a pool of water. When the end of the virtual arm is in open air it’s pretty easy to move. When it dips below the water line the motors are used to increase resistance, simulating movement through a denser substance.
This sounds like a great piece of hardware to have around when the OASIS is finally developed.
Continue reading “Robot arm provides haptic feedback from the virtual world”
We always enjoy seeing what Electrical and Computer Engineering students dream up for their final projects, and though we must have missed this back in 2010 when it was published, [Bruce Land] dropped us a line to bring our attention to this cool Haptic Exercise Coach.
Designed and built by Cornell students [Michael Lyons] and [Greg Meess], the Haptic Exercise Coach is a small electrical circuit that helps individuals maintain proper form during bicep curls. The device uses accelerometers to monitor the user’s arm position and speed throughout the exercise, offering corrective feedback if it detects poor form. The device is driven by a Mega32 microcontroller which evaluates the data from the accelerometers, triggering one of six pager vibration motors to provide the feedback.
The pair says that the device can be used in athletic training to maximize workout time, or in muscle rehabilitation clinics where proper form can prevent reinjury.
Continue reading to see a video presentation of the device, and be sure to check out their project page for more details on how it was built.
Continue reading “Weightlifting coach will nag you about your form…at least until the batteries run dry”
It’s not that touchscreen keyboards are horrible, but it’s nearly impossible to touch type on an iPad or other tablet keyboard. A team at the Media Computing Group at Aachen University figured out how to put a series of electromagnets underneath a display to provide haptic feedback for touchscreens. They showed off their tech at the 2011 UIST conference and made their paper available.
For the FingerFlux, as the team likes to call it, a bed of tiny electromagnets is placed underneath a panel display. The user wears a ‘thimble’ with an attached permanent magnet. Driving the bed of electromagnets slightly moves the magnet and provides a little bit of sensation to the user.
The FingerFlux can be used to provide haptic feedback like a keyboard. The system can also be used to model constraints – making sure that users don’t move outside the controls they operate, and can guide the user to the desired button.
A bed of electromagnets would be a welcome addition to tablets, if only to prevent typung luje rhus. Check out the demo of the FingerFlux after the break.
Thanks go to [John] for sending this one in.
Continue reading “Tactile computer interface with electromagnets”
Using a scanning laser similar to those used in industrial safety systems, a new wheelchair developed by Sweden’s Luleå University of Technology allows those who are visually impaired to drive it without assistance. A driver is given haptic feedback as a navigation aid, reportedly similar to using a cane.
Although something like this is good in concept, this idea is already a working prototype. Doctoral student Daniel Innala Ahlmark (who is visually impaired himself) has already taken this wheelchair on a test run in his university’s busy Computer Science, Electrical, and Space Engineering Department. After this test run he remarked that he “felt safe like using a white cane.”
It’s really neat to see engineering and hacking skills put to use to help people who are impaired in some way (even cooler to see someone visually impaired helping with the process itself!). For more “hacks” related to helping people check out this brain controlled wheelchair, or this mobility device for kids.
[polymythic] Is helping the blind see with his haptic feedback device called HALO. At the heart of the device is an Arduino Mega 2560 which senses objects with a few ultrasonic range finders and then relays the information back to the user using some vibration motors from old cell phones. The user can feel the distance by the frequency at which the motor pulses. The faster the motors pulse the closer an object is.
This kind of sensing is something that it can be applied to pretty much any sensor allowing the user to feel something that might be otherwise invisible. While haptic feedback is nothing new its good to see continuing work with new sensors and different setups.