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With each innovation, we are brought one step closer to complete immersion. So many ideas have been brought into for forefront of our minds in the last few decades. With Microsoft’s new Kinect and it’s promise to accurately track our movement is definitely mind-blowing and yet there is no force feedback other than the visual indication of what we did. According to Rajinder Sodhi, a PhD Candidate at the University of Illinois and the lead research of Disney Aireal project, believes he’s solved this in the way of a haptic device.
“We’ve focused so much on visuals in the last few decades,” Sodhi says. “The idea of using haptics [devices]..there’s this rich space we haven’t really touched on. It’s one of the few areas of creating that extra level of immersion that’s still untapped. Free-air haptics naturally fits in as a solution to that problem,” Sodhi explained. “You don’t have to impede how the user naturally interacts with the world.”
But what does haptic mean? Generally, the word ‘haptic’ is any form of nonverbal communication involving touch.
Alright, that’s all well and good but how does Aireal work? Aireal is basically a small, mounted cannon that “blasts concentrated vortices (circular) of air at a user”. This in turn gives the user a feeling of touch or tactile feedback. An example of this would be when you swat a soccer ball at the screen, not only would you visually be able to see the ball react to your movements, Aireal will actually “hit the palm of your hand with a burst of air” giving you the feeling that you actually hit a soccer ball.
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