Future Tech: Simulating Textures with Touchscreens?


In a few years, computer users and gamers will have the option to be able to get touchy-feely with their monitors. That technology is definitely in store for tablet users, and traditional desktop setups may not necessarily be all the same. That will depend on where this technology will get used. Without a doubt, certain entertainment industries will be excited in what can be developed from it, and that can bring new meaning to what kind of new simulations can be programmed off it. In essence, this new invention is a form of haptic technology, and its use in video games have been around for some time in the form of force-feedback motion-controllers.

In a report by Gizmag, Disney Research and Senseg are developing a system where a user’s fingertips can sense a simulated bump on a flat screen that corresponds to a bump on a displayed image. Now if that included 3D projection, the beginnings of hard light projection may well become a reality. Remember Rimmer from Red Dwarf? He’s a hologram with no ability to interact with his environment. Later in the series, his projection unit was modified so that his light body is more “tangible,” and thus be indestructible.


While neither companies technology is anywhere near that, the beginnings of simulating the physicality of objects on a screen may well be a start. The question of how deep can it go is uncertain, but if the sensation of depth can be more than an inch, that can be a game changer.

To imagine where this technology will go in applications beyond interactive screens. Maybe interacting with holographic chess pieces à la Star Wars will be the next step. For games emulating a surface, players can crawl their fingers along terrain to pinpoint a tactical strike or get a proper tactile response to an object “stabbing” out of a game. Angry Birds can potentially be a lot more difficult to play since a third dimension will be part of the challenge. But right now, all the technology can do is to ruffle some feathers.


Maybe the electrical field that some people can feel on the tablet screen can be made to move to simulate motion of objects on the screen. This technology is still at its infancy, but the wide-range of applications might be able to provide more than feeling the bump of a cragged ridge or the curves of a voluptuous body. Depending on what the final product will deliver, SDKs will have to be offered in order to take advantage of the technology at its utmost. In order for this technology to take off, the ability for the software to adapt to what the screen displays fast enough is key to making this added stimuli to work.


About Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, Vivascene and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology, popular culture, video games, movies, technology and paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

Posted on November 3, 2013, in Nerd Explosion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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