A new range of haptic experiences could enable people to communicate emotions via the palm of their hand, thanks to a new study by scientists at the University of Sussex in the UK.
The Sensex study showed that short, sharp bursts of air to the thumb, index finger and middle area of palm can generate excitement, while longer bursts of air to the outer palm can create sad feelings.
The team's findings are based on experiments with the Ultrahaptics system – a device that manipulates a dynamic force field of air, created by the University of Bristol researchers behind the Sensabubble. The discovery could spark new innovations in human communication methods, said Marianna Obrist, a lecturer in the department of Informatics at the University of Sussex.
"Imagine a couple that just had a fight before going to work," Obrist said. "While she is in a meeting, she receives a gentle sensation transmitted through her bracelet on the right part of her hand, moving into the middle of the palm. That sensation comforts her and indicates that her partner is not angry anymore."
The team has been awarded £1m ($1.58m) in funding to expand the research into taste and smell. "Relatively soon, we may be able to realise truly compelling and multifaceted media experiences, such as nine-dimensional TV, or computer games that evoke emotions through taste," Obrist added.
Advances in haptic communication are changing the way people meet and interact – read Modern Dating for more. Then take a look at Sensory Science to discover the next wave of sensory devices that promise to amp up everyday experiences.