Earlier this year, Oculus released the final consumer version of the Oculus Rift, after much anticipation following their historic Kickstarter campaign and subsequent acquisition by Facebook. However, with Oculus currently losing the VR war to the more expensive HTC Vive, Oculus now seems to be planning to beat other players in the VR space with advanced haptics. Researchers at Oculus are currently working on a project called HapticWave, which uses a circular metal plate placed on top of a ring of electromagnetic actuators to communicate precise haptic feedback to your hand, when placed on the plate. Continue reading “Virtual Textures with Oculus”
Earlier this week, we had the pleasure of talking to Oliver Schneider, a graduate student and researcher at the University of British Columbia. Working at the Sensory Perception & Interaction Research Group, Oliver spends most of his days developing new software and hardware interfaces that engage our sense of touch. He described various techniques he used to create development tools and interfaces for creating rich tactile effects, including Haptic Jazz – a system for taking improvisational input on a tablet and translating it in real-time into a vibrotactile sensation. Continue reading “Macaron and the Future of Haptic Editors”
At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit a few days ago, Google co-founder Sergey Brin advised fledgling startups to stay away from Silicon Valley. In the Valley, it’s “hard to make a scrappy initial business that’s self-sustaining, and in other parts of the world you might have an easier time of that.” The best move, it seems, is to start building your business wherever you call home.
All three of us founders are fortunate enough to call Arizona home, and Phoenix is an ideal place for a scrappy, self-sustaining business. Since starting Somatic Labs here in the Valley of the Sun, we’ve found even more reasons to love our hometown. Continue reading “Scrappy startup? Turn up the heat in Phoenix.”
With the rise of Netflix and Youtube as dominant platforms for video consumption, fewer people are visiting theaters to watch movies. An increasing amount of multimedia content will be designed for the home theater as these streaming services grow their libraries. Netflix users consume content on whichever screen is available: a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. As the user experience for content consumption shifts towards mobile applications and at-home viewing, the interactive elements of 3D and 4D film previously reserved for movie theaters will transition to technologies easily adopted by households.
Good video is engaging – it tells a compelling story with excellent production value. Since there is increasing competition for viewership between different streaming platforms, devices, and content production studios, there is an increasing demand for differentiated content – content that provides a unique experience to its viewers. Continue reading “The Future of 4D Home Cinema: A Haptic Effects Track”
Vibrotactile pulses (e.g. the buzzing of a cell phone or game controller) can provide users with real-time feedback in a computer interface, but it’s not the only way to transmit information through the sense of touch. Modulating the temperature of the surface of a device can also provide additional information to users.
When a current flows through a junction between two different conductors, heat can be generated or removed from the junction. This phenomenon is called the Peltier effect, named after physicist Jean Charles Athanase Peltier. Different conductive materials that exhibit a Peltier effect will generate or remove different amounts of heat proportional to the amount of current running through the junction – the Peltier coefficient measures how much heat is carried for every unit of charge flowing through the device. Continue reading “Temperature Feedback with the Thermoelectric (Peltier) Effect”
In this post, we’ll look at the different ways that some of the most popular wearables implement haptics. Outside of the Apple Watch, most wearables use a simple eccentric rotating mass motor for haptic feedback.
The Apple Watch was first introduced in the fall of 2014 and has since become the world’s best selling wearable device. It was Apple’s first introduction of its “Taptic Engine”, which provides haptic feedback for alerts and notifications. While the design of the Taptic Engine module is proprietary, it is likely a customized linear resonant actuator.Continue reading “The Haptic Breakdown: What’s Inside Your Smartwatch”
A few weeks ago, I noticed that the aluminum enclosure of my unibody Macbook Pro had a strange texture when I brushed my hand across the surface. After some tinkering, I noticed that this only happened when the device was being used while charging and that it only happened when using my shorter, 2-prong, power cable—leading me to believe there was some sort of current leakage happening.
Skin sensitivity can be impaired by many different diseases and disorders. Although skin injuries (burns, incisions, etc.) and nerve lesions (from injury or restricted blood circulation) are the most commonly experienced causes of decreased sensitivity, several metabolic, toxic, and immunologic factors can influence haptic perception.
One of the most common complications of diabetes, known as diabetic neuropathy, results in damage to the nerves of the body that cause numbness, tingling, and pain. Diabetes can also slow the healing of cuts and cause rashes that alter the sensitivity of an area of skin. Continue reading “Impairments to Tactile Perception”
People rapidly and accurately identify 3-dimensional objects using only their sense of touch . This process occurs through a sequence of exploratory procedures that underlie the cognitive strategies used to conclusively identify an object entirely through its haptic features. The following four procedures are the most common methods for tactile exploration . Continue reading “How Humans Explore Objects via Touch”