A new 'haptic' technology developed in Bristol allows computers to be controlled by mid-air hand movements

UltraHaptics could be used to create an invisible mid-air feedback layer for interaction with motion-tracking sensors such as the Leap Motion. Photograph: Leap Motion
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Researchers at Bristol University have developed a new system that simulates the feel of objects in mid-air using nothing but sound.
The “UltraHaptic” system uses an array of ultrasonic transducers – a grid of small piezoelectric speakers that produce waves of ultrasound, the same as those used to scan babies in the womb – which align to produce an invisible layer of ultrasonic vibrations in the air above a display. This creates a small tactile sensation on the surface of human skin.
Haptic feedback, as techniques like this are known, is the process of creating a tactile sensation for virtual objects. For instance, some smartphones vibrate on virtual button presses, while others emit audible keypad tones while dialling numbers.
“By creating multiple simultaneous feedback points, and giving them individual tactile properties, users can receive localised feedback associated to their actions,” said Tom Carter, a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science's Bristol’s Interaction and Graphics group.

source: theguardian.com