January 24, 2022 3 min read

 Touch Screen Image

Have you ever wondered what it will feel like to interact with a touch screen that will allow you to feel particular objects? Researchers from Texas A&M University, led by Dr. Cynthia Hipwell, are currently working on a touch-screen technology that will allow the sense of touch. The team’s goal is to develop a device that interacts with users' fingers.


An Interactive Touch-Based Experience

According to Dr. Hipwell, the team wants to develop a new type of human-machine interface by developing touch devices to give a more interactive touch-based experience. To achieve this, they are working on a technology that can imitate the feeling of physical objects.

Hipwell further explained many potential applications, such asVR gaming headsets and gears that can display tactile display interfaces. Developing a touch screen that allows you to feel objects and textures on the screen can improve the user experience. For example, such technology can create a virtual shopping experience where consumers can actually feel the surfaces of the products they want to buy.


The Use of Haptic Technology

To develop the technology, the team is refining haptic technology. It is referred to as 3D touch, which refers to any device that can create an experience of touch by applying vibrations, motions, or forces.

Hipwell explained that the “touch” aspect of the current touch screen technology is designed more for the screen than the user. But in an ideal setup, the relationship between the user and the device should be more reciprocal. This is becoming possible thanks to the further development of haptic technology.

To create a better experience, implementing VR technology and haptic technology will bring touch into the human-machine interface. This can get a better sense of realism, the primary goal. It can help draw the user’s attention to make something easier to find or understand through haptic effects.

For such technology to be developed, the team is working on an incredibly complex interface designed to change depending on the user and environmental conditions.


The Development of Advanced Touch Screen Technology

The researchers are looking for electro-wetting effects for the technology to be developed. Such effects are created when forces result from applied electric fields. The team is also looking to study and use electrostatic effects, material properties, surface geometry, fluid motion, charge transport, and changes in properties of the finger.

To cut it short, the team is looking at everything going on in the interface and studying how the device can be designed to be more reliable and higher performing. Dr. Hipwell explained that the goal is to create predictive models that allow designers to develop devices that feature maximum haptic effect. These devices will also have minimum sensitivity to the user and environmental variation.

The team will begin to implement these features into common devices in the next few years.

According to Dr. Hipwell, the early elements of the device they are currently working on will be complete within five years. The development will be affected depending on the advancement of the technology involved in the project. 


Virtual Reality Technology

Virtual Reality Technology develops devices that create a simulated experience similar or completely different from the real world. The technologies have been applied for entertainment through video games, education for medical and military training, and for businesses through virtual meetings.

There are also other types of VR-style technology, including AR (Augmented Reality) and Mixed Reality. Augmented reality creates an interactive experience that involves a real-world environment. Mixed reality merges the objects in the real and virtual world to produce new environments and visualizations.


Haptic Technology

Haptic technology is the development of any devices or enhancements that can create an experience of touch. It works by applying different levels of vibrations to the user that can develop the sense of touch coming from a processing device.

For years, haptic technology has been used in different things. For example, simple use of haptic technologies has been applied to game controllers, steering wheels, and joysticks. But its development has led to the creation of haptic body suits used in different applications. In video games alone, companies have started to develop and offer haptic suits to commercial users.

As these two technologies develop, we can’t wait to see how virtual reality technology and haptic technology can bring more realism to users.



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