Disney develops 'feel-around' touchscreens

The technology could also help the blind to identify objects on a touch screen

The Disney Co. on Wednesday announced a new touch-screen technology that offers users tactile sensations that mimic real surfaces.

In a research paper, scientists at Disney Research in Pittsburgh proposed a tactile rendering algorithm for simulating 3D geometric features on touch screens.

Using electrical impulses, the touch screen technology offers the sensation of ridges, edges, protrusions and bumps and any combination of those textures.

The researchers presented the technology at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in St Andrews, Scotland.

While Disney is not alone in developing tactile response touchscreens, its researchers said the traditional approach has been to use a library of "canned effects," that are played back when someone touches a screen.

"This makes it difficult to create a tactile feedback for dynamic visual content, where the sizes and orientation of features constantly change," said Ali Israr, an engineer with Disney Research. "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."

The touch-screen devices can also receive tactile feedback relating to form and surface topography. If a user is exploring a 3D rendering or a navigational map, depth and elevation information would also be related through touch.

Environmental settings can also be rendered in real time, allowing users access to spaces and surfaces they may not typically have access to. Additionally, the technology could offer information to the visually impaired about their location, helping them to better discern their surroundings by touching the touchscreen.

A demonstration of Disney's tactile algorithm, which uses electrical impulses to offer the sensation of ridges, edges, protrusions, bumps.

Disney said its computer algorithm consists of three main steps: The first calculates the gradient of the virtual surface in need of rendering; it then determine the "dot product" of the gradient of the virtual surface and velocity of the sliding finger; and then it "maps the dot-product to the voltage using the psychophysical relationship."

Called a "slope model", the algorithm would combine with hardware to produce an electro-vibration based friction display to modulate the friction forces between the touch surface and the sliding finger.

When a finger slides on a touch-screen object, minute surface variations are sensed by friction-sensitive mechanoreceptors in a person's skin. The computer algorithm then modulates the friction forces between the fingertip and the touch surface to create the illusion of surface variations.

Disney Research's algorithm has three main steps. It calculates the gradient, or slope, of the virtual surface in need of rendering; It determines the "dot product" of the gradient of the virtual surface and velocity of the sliding finger; and it maps the dot-product to the voltage using the psychophysical relationship (Source: Disney Research).

"We first determined a psychophysical relationship between the voltage applied to the display and the subjective strength of friction forces, and then used this function to render friction forces directly proportional to the gradient (slope) of the surface being rendered," the researchers stated in a news release.

The researchers said a comparison study showed that users are at least three times more likely to prefer the proposed slope-model than other commonly used models of tactile touchscreens.

"Our algorithm is concise, light and easily applicable on static images and video streams," the researchers stated.

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Supporting Association

The marketing over the past 2 years of the Vodafone brand has been confused. We have seen some of the worst advertising in the brands his...

Noel

Vodafone on the hunt for new CMO

Read more

This is an extremely insightful article for sure: a perfect case study into the correct way to choose and implement a CRM system so that ...

Aaron Williams

How marketing automation, CRM upgrade is paying engagement dividends for ResMed

Read more

Mr. Rudy has found the right direction to marketing Catch of the Day and paying attention to customer comments and complaints. The simpl...

Desiree Segal

Catch of the Day retailer hooks fresh customer insight with NPS

Read more

True. Australian Marketing, Advertising, News, PR and Sales Fails Big Time due to using old techniques and not adapting to ICT - can be r...

Joe

Marketing must take charge of innovation, says TBWA chairman

Read more

Step 1) Employ your own workforce. Step 2) Show the public network being built. Step 3) Let the public advertise your brand in return f...

Jason

NBN Co creates head of social strategy role

Read more

Sign in