Researchers at Disney have developed a way for people to ‘feel’ textures on touchscreen surfaces.

Tactile Bump image4b Disney invents new touchscreen that allows the user to feel textures

The pioneering technique was developed by a team at Disney Research and works by transmitting small vibrations through the touchscreen display to give the user a sensation of feeling. In essence, the technology would really put the touch into touchscreens and would be a huge leap forward to achieving the ideal haptic feedback that would simulate real-world interaction with 3-dimensional objects on a 2-dimensional display.

The researchers claim that their technology and the algorithm behind it could ‘easily’ be implemented into future and existing devices, but concede that all sensation is achieved only through fooling the brain. Regardless, the technology is extremely promising and frankly awesome.

Ivan Poupyrev, head of the interaction research group, explained the technology in more detail in a press release:

“Our brain perceives the 3D bump on a surface mostly from information that it receives via skin stretching. Therefore, if we can artificially stretch skin on a finger as it slides on the touch screen, the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touch screen even though the touch surface is completely smooth.”

This invention will allow the makers of smartphones, tablets and touch-screen displays alike to add a whole new dimension to their products and the possibilities are really endless for its uses.

“Touch interaction has become the standard for smartphones, tablets and even desktop computers, so designing algorithms that can convert the visual content into believable tactile sensations has immense potential for enriching the user experience.”

So far, I’m afraid there is no word if and where the technology will be used.

Sources: Disney Research, BBC