Bringing Texture to Your Flat Touchscreen

It could be possible in future we could feel the texture on touchscreens. Scientists have taken a closer look at bringing texture to touchscreens and have found that under circumstances, people can feel “virtual bumps.”

Here’s something which has been published on this research:

Northwestern University and Carnegie Mellon University researchers reported a fascinating discovery that provides insight into how the brain makes sense of data from fingers. In a study of people drawing their fingers over a flat surface that has two “virtual bumps,” the research team is the first to find that, under certain circumstances, the subjects feel only one bump when there really are two. Better yet, the researchers can explain why the brain comes to this conclusion. Forces felt by the fingers as they travel along a flat surface can lead to the illusion that the surface actually contains bumps. This “virtual bump illusion” is known in the haptics field. Intrigued by this phenomenon, the scientists decided to make use of it.

By leveraging the virtual bump illusion, we were able to design a meaningful experiment that shed light on the way the brain integrates information from multiple fingers,” said Colgate. “Our big finding was ‘collapse’-the idea that separate bumps felt in separate fingers are nonetheless experienced as one bump if their separation happens to match that of the fingers.”

The researchers presented two virtual bumps with the use of haptic technology, with the distance between them varying across trials, to volunteers. When bump and finger spacing were identical, the volunteers said that they felt the two bumps as one. “Our findings will help us and other researchers figure out how to design haptic technology to produce certain tactile effects,” said Michael Peshkin, one of the researchers. “Haptics-giving a feel to objects-just enhances the physicality of a person’s experience.”

This new research and its experimental results on “haptic illusions” could one day lead to flat-screen displays featuring active touch-back technology, we could in future see screens where you can feel certain components, such as making your touchscreen’s keyboard actually feel like a keyboard.

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