Virtual reality gets a tactile reality check
As a student at the University of Bristol, Tom Carter became obsessed with the notion of letting people feel and manipulate virtual objects. A professor turned him on to using ultrasound to simulate tactile sensations.
Today, Carter, 27, is co-founder and chief technology officer of Ultrahaptics, which uses clever algorithms and an array of ultrasound emitters to simulate a range of feelings: tiny bubbles bursting on your fingertips, a stream of liquid passing over your hand, the outlines of three-dimensional shapes.
Carter said the technology's greatest promise might lie in making virtual reality "feel" more real.
"Touch is an essential sense to make compelling virtual reality."
Steve Cliffe, Ultrahaptics's CEO, says the first computer game using Ultrahaptics would be launched this year .
The technology has its limitations: while ultrasound can simulate the sensation of touching the outline of an object, it cannot create an illusion of solidity.