This week a fellow by the name of Tom Carter will show off a system by the name of UltraHaptics, one that will apparently take away the problems inherent with touchscreen displays requiring users to cover up the objects they touch. This system will be presented at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) 2013 by Tom Carter from the Department of Computer Science in a paper that'll show of multipoint mid-air haptic feedback allowing users to touch without touching.
This system works with ultrasonic vibrations to bring tactile sensations to the user who can then manipulate what's on the display without actually touching it. While this system may seem on one level to be similar to that of Leap Motion, the added benefit of actually feeling like you're touching the objects on the display changes the equation entirely. This system's 40kHz ultrasound is able to penetrate the device's display surface and present sensations above the glass able to be felt and recognized by human skin.
The full team behind this presentation are Tom Carter, Sue Ann Seah, Benjamin Long, Bruce Drinkwater, and Sriram Subramanian. They've worked to present UltraHaptics as a systemt hat can be used in the real world - and not that far into the future, too.
"We introduce UltraHaptics, a system designed to provide multi-point haptic feedback above an interactive surface. UltraHaptics employs focused ultrasound to project discrete points of haptic feedback through the display and directly on to users' unadorned hands. We investigate the desirable properties of an acoustically transparent display and demonstrate that the system is capable of creating multiple localized points of feedback in mid-air.
Through psychophysical experiments we show that feedback points with different tactile properties can be identified at smaller separations. We also show that users are able to distinguish between different vibration frequencies of non-contact points with training. Finally, we explore a number of exciting new interaction possibilities that UltraHaptics provides."
Two other papers have been published in tangent with the one centered on UltraHaptics as well. One goes by the name of Increasing the Appeal of Mobile TV Using Haptic Feedback, the other called Adding Haptic Feedback to Mobile TV. So as you can see - through Bristol Interaction and Graphics, this team means to bring this technology to TV sets - or at least present it that way again soon.