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.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

Invest and earn with Coinbloc .us. Guaranteed Weekly ROI, early signals, fast withdrawals among others. I recommend Coinbloc .us as on...

Hans Jensen

Explainer: What marketers need to know about cryptocurrency

Read more

Investment decisions are a big deal, so why not get some guidance? You can day-trade cryptos, BUY and HOLD and evaluate the assets with f...

Dave Sigurd

Gartner: Digital isn't enough of a superpower for CMOs anymore

Read more

I normally don’t feel comfortable investing online but because the company I worked for downsized due to the pandemic and I was one of th...

Dave Sigurd

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 9 June 2022

Read more

Investment decisions are a big deal, so why not get some guidance? You can day-trade cryptos, BUY and HOLD and evaluate the assets with f...

Dave Sigurd

Creating a marketplace for wellness

Read more

A solution for an retail industry data extraction. https://e-scraper.com/usefu...

"e-Scraper" Data Extracting

​Catchoftheday launches fee-based online shopping club

Read more

Blog Posts

2 hidden ingredients for leadership success CMOs need to know

Your success as a senior marketing professional has much in common with your success as a leader. Both marketing, and leadership activities, depend on building trust, encouraging action, and reliably fulfilling promises that have been made.

Gerard Penna

Leadership advisor, coach

How shifting economic trends are impacting digital media

Between further interest rate rises, inflation​, empty shelves, extortionate lettuce prices, supply chain issues and the barely believable events in Eastern Europe, the past six months there’s been a cacophony of environmental factors.

Kieran Reed

Senior digital manager, Alpha Digital

5 ways to turn imposter syndrome into confidence and conviction

Imposter syndrome. That feeling others will discover you are actually not as good as they expect, and at any point you will be exposed and ridiculed as a fraud. If you can relate to this, then you are not alone.

Rowena Millward

Author, consultant

Sign in