US tech giant Microsoft has developed a 3D touchscreen that allows images to be manipulated and moved around the screen using tactile feedback. Microsoft’s research unit developed the system – called 3D Haptic Touch – by combining an LCD flat panel screen with sensors and a robotic arm, allowing the screen to move back and forth when pressure is applied.
By controlling the level of resistance felt by the user the system can simulate the weight and feel of objects displayed on screen. As the screen moves the computer automatically adjusts the size and perspective of the on-screen graphics, creating a 3D effect. Microsoft says the system could have a number of applications, particularly within the health care and gaming sectors.
“As your finger pushes on the touchscreen and the senses merge with stereo vision, if we do the convergence correctly and update the visuals constantly so that they correspond to your finger's depth perception, this is enough for your brain to accept the virtual world as real,” said senior researcher Michel Pahud.
Haptic interfaces are fast becoming the next frontier in interface design – find more on this in The Importance of Touch (part of the SS14 Materials Focus) and our upcoming Macro Trend Agile Futures. The mobile gaming industry is a big driver of research into interaction technology – take a look at Touchscreen Gaming Aesthetics discover the latest developments in haptic gaming.