Haptic Mid-air Interaction (Work in Progress)

The ultrasound array, hardcore electrical engineering

Custom designed and produced pulleys to control the axes. Printed in a liquid based 3D printer!

A custom made PCB for wiring the processor to the drivers of the stepper motors

Imagine you are in an art gallery, you walk into one of those huge white rooms with a high roof. You can feel the sense of space around you. While you slowly move to the center of the room you look around you. On the walls are some perfectly organised paintings. All colour you see is the beautiful colours on those paintings and some yellow/black markings around them with signs saying "DO NOT TOUCH". As you leave the gallery you realise your sense of vision has been heavily enriched during the experience but all your other senses have been painfully silent. What if we could change this?!  What if we could enrich the art experience with a haptic sense of beauty rather than just a visual one?

This is what this project is all about. The goal is to create haptic sensations in mid air which could enrich an art work. The artist can not only design the visual but also the haptic sensation the users will experience when they explore the artwork. The technology that will be used for this is ultrasound, by using a large array of ultrasound transducers that send out waves which are exactly in phase with each other you create interference patterns in the air. These interference patterns are strong enough to create a sense of touch on hands of users. This array is mounted in the middle of a large frame which can make it move around in space along 2 axes. That installation is placed behind a painting, on the other side of the painting the user can feel these tactile sensations. The hand of the user will be tracked and the array of ultrasound transducers will move to that position to create the sense of touch on the hand of the user.

This project is lead by Maryam Azh, a PhD candidate at the NUS-HCI lab in Singapore. I am the critical collaborator in this project, my role is the development of all the technology and thinking about the interface and user experience. The goal is to publish 2 papers in CHI 2015 in Seoul! 

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