“Rendering 3D tactile features on touch surfaces” – that’s how Disney Research describes their new creation. While many of my generation would probably think Ariel, Belle, and all the other not-your-usual princesses of our childhood, this new development will certainly catch the attention of any tech head, Disney princess fan or not. And, it does what it says on the tin: the technology will allow users to actually feel what’s displayed on the screen.

Tactile-Bump-image4b

How do they do it?

It’s all about friction, that irritating force of nature that brings about a lot of complications in other applications. In this case, however, friction made it possible for the brilliant Disney minds to make this touchscreen. From the Disney Research press release:

“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 touch screen, the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touch screen even though the touch surface is completely smooth.”

Bottom line: It’s all about tricking our brains into thinking we’re feeling things.

Applications

We don’t need to have Einstein’s IQ to see the potential of this technology, do we?

Imagine playing Infinity Blade (1, 2, or 3 – it doesn’t matter) on your iPad with its awesome graphics. Now imagine having the additional tactile feedback. Any other gaming tablet with this feature would be very welcome as well!

How about exploring a topographical map or a 3D view of a place you want to visit? Again, add a tactile aspect to that.

Then there’s the education sector, which is already a huge “fan” of using tablets in the classroom. Imagine all the applications that can be taken to the next level with this kind of touchscreen!

This is interesting, at the very least. Here’s a video for more details.

[Image via Washington Post]