We see the news of the haptic technology and how it lets you feel virtual objects. Yes, feel the texture, shape and weight of something that does not exist. Magic? Now with all new developments in virtual reality and augmented , we can see objects that are not really there and to interact with them. Just look at the Hololens for example, casting all those holograms. However, things feel anything. And here it is where comes haptic technology to take the next big leap: in addition to see, you can touch.


But first … What is hátipca technology? This is the technology that interacts with our sense of touch, making us feel for example force or vibration. Yes, the same as is used for example in the pad console dense 90s, or flyers in racing games, so the thing is long. But the next step is much more ambitious: to feel the shape, weight and texture of objects that are not there. We are not that far, and the first projects are coming.

GloveOne: Glove to feel

No need to go far to find the first instance, the glove GloveOne the Spanish company Neurodigital Technologies. The trick is that this glove has 10 small areas along the hand and fingers vibrate independently with different intensity, reproducing the feeling that you’re playing “something” . As the glove can not detect the position of objects, it uses external sensors such as Leap Motion or Kinect.

Just imagine this combined with a virtual reality helmet, pure magic. However, although there are prototypes completed, the project is in its infancy. Proof of this is the recently launched campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds. If things goes well, promise it to work with the Unreal Engine (graphics engine widely used in 3D games) and mobile.

But … it does or is an empty promise? Few people tried it, but Hugh Langley, TechRadar, used it and said he could see holding solid objects , such as when he tried to hold a virtual ball. He also noticed a difference by supporting virtual hand on different surfaces, such as a table or a table of bamboo. Slack is not feeling the full weight of the objects, and in his own words: “I feel that there is something there but would not know it if you were not looking” .

UltraHaptics: Using sound to create forms

The following technology is even more surprising. We talked about UltraHaptics , developed at the University of Bristol in the UK. This system uses sound waves that, after bouncing on a surface, can create three-dimensional objects invisible . Pass your hand around the air and you can feel a figure such as a sphere or a pyramid, without gloves or anything.

Wacky Sounds right? But the idea is to target waves of low frequency sound directly to several points in the fingers or palm, so you can feel the vibration. After detecting the location of your hand, the diameter of these points is changed to give the illusion of touching a figure . Figures certainly not very detailed, as the first to be printed using 3D printers.

Tomsguide tried it at CES , which could simulate moving a dial to select a radio station, or even the illusion of Bubble. The sensations were good , and although the use for now seems a bit limited, has a great future. We plan to use it for example to simulate physical buttons on a phone that is all screen, and more ambitious things as helping surgeons.

Tangible Haptics: Textures in the mobile screen

These two projects are the most popular, although I would also name “Tangible Haptics”, a startup that is working, using electrostatic, allowing friction feel textures and touch screens of mobile . An example is when, in an app, you must press a lever. Well, here you could feel the friction when pressing begins and ends.

Waiting for it to arrive

With all mentioned, it is likely that one or two years haptic technology that much more present, especially if the virtual reality hits hard on consumers as has been promising. I in particular, I think that this would suit luxury holograms that make Hololens , especially if you want to shape an object by hand. Or why not to play Minecraft! We’ll see what lies ahead.