The beloved Oculus Rift VR glasses took the tech world with storm when they first were displayed. How about stepping things up a notch? The inexorable pace of technological wonders continues to astound us. Now, scientists have created the next step towards virtual reality in the physical world.
A team at the University of Bristol has created a hologram which can be felt by human hands. The possibilities are endless and technology which creates this effect could bring applications to medicine as well as culture and interaction. Holograms has been blabbered about for quite a while, maybe most during occasions when long-dead celebrities have risen from the grave and entered concert stages. But this is something new.
Without the ability touch or feel objects you are interacting with when you are experiencing VR, it is almost like some vivid dream where you are subjected to an illusionary effect while interacting with different objects. There experience is mostly merely visual and you do not get any real feedback in most cases.
The magazine New Scientist reports that the researchers have tested several shapes of holograms and are satisfied with the results so far. But how does it really work? When the solution is presented, it appears quite genius in all its simplicity (even if the creation is far from simple). The scientists are using ultrasound as the means to their achievement.
A Leap Motion sensor is tracking the precise position of the user’s hand. Since the system knows where the hand is currently positioned in relation to the object, it continuously calibrates and directs the ultrasound with the right timing and the right frequency towards the hand. While you are really moving your hand through empty space, you can in this way feel the displayed object.
The technology is a bit rough around the edges at the moment, but the scientists are convinced that more and smaller speakers will improve the resolution of what is projected. A comparison to any surface or video makes the statement seem quite fair.
In any case, the team has already been approached by companies interested in developing commercial applications with the help of the technology. Thus, in a not too distant future we will probably be able to experience the technology ourselves in technology fairs and similar settings. We can hardly wait.