French research and development company Immersion is working on building the sensation of touch with HoloLens augmented reality (via Next Reality). With the work of Ultrahaptics, the sound-based technology to bring the digital world to our hands is actually something we might have overlooked: ultrasound.
Ultrahaptics has already released a development kit that Immersion is looking to use in conjunction with Microsoft HoloLens. It is explained as:
With its patented core technology, Ultrahaptics uses ultrasound to provide a unique touch sensation that can revolutionise the human-machine interface, enabling users to ‘feel’ virtual buttons, switches, dials and other objects in mid-air. Touchless controls are hygienic for use in medical, industrial and domestic environments, such as hospitals, kitchens and restrooms, while their use for automotive infotainment and dashboard functions enhances safety, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road. The disruptive nature of gesture control with haptic feedback, providing two-way communication with devices, also opens up new possibilities in consumer electronics, computing and gaming applications.
One such example of Immersion using ultrasound to bring augmented reality to life is with their short seventeen-second demo. The video shows Immersion syncing HoloLens with the Ultrahaptics and spinning a globe, presumably with touch through the square haptic ultrasound projector below.
It’s certainly an interesting idea that seems like it might be expensive to produce on a larger consumer market. Instead, Ultrahaptics is advertising the touch solution as a way to interact with kitchen appliances and medical procedures to maintain hygiene. Their automotive innovation is to create easy to reach invisible dials that respond easier to the touch so that drivers can stay focused.
However, for driving, we much prefer the hands-free ‘Hey Cortana’ method.
Further reading: Augmented Reality, HoloLens, Microsoft