flying ninjas love 3d tactile force feedbackCome in out of the large open spaces, where you risk inevitable attacks from throngs of flying ninjas, and have a look at the near possibility of how we will be interfacing with virtual objects in the future.

3D space is a pretty big area to be manipulating like a clump of old clay, but you whack that space down to a defined volume within the tightly wound wavelengths of a friendly frequency and suddenly, you’re moving junk around in 3D space with your hand. Check this out.

During Siggraph08, ShinodaLabs debuted their Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display, a physical force-feedback system that uses a transducer array and ultrasound to create a variable pressure field against a person hand. No gloves, no devices, just your hands. The interruptions in the very fine, ultrasound frequency allow the user to manipulate objects within the 3D space above the transducer.

Due to the ultrasound radiated from the transducer array, acoustic radiation pressure is exerted on the user’s skin. Each transducer on the array is driven so that the emitted ultrasound produces a single focal point. The camera measures the position of the hand and the tactile feedback is provided when the hand is in contact with the virtual object.Shinodalabs

The future of the 3D CAD interface
Yeah, so this is kinda freaking me out cause I just wrote an article in the upcoming Develop3D about the future of the CAD interface and how multi-touch will, and will not, play a role in how we create our products in a virtually adaptive design environment. You’ll have to read the article, but all I can say is that a display, as we know it, won’t be needed either.

Here’s a (somewhat boring) video that show the system in action.

Much Like The Theremin
This uses the same principles as the very first 3-dimensional hands-free ‘multi-touch’ device created back in 1919, the Theremin. A Theremin is the earliest known electronic musical instrument. The player controls frequency (pitch) and volume in 3-dimensional space by disrupting magnetic fields with their hands to create sound. Sounds fun huh.

Here’s a (somewhat annoying) video of a Theremin being played.

The Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display from ShinodaLabs takes this concept of frequency modulation one pace toward brilliant and gives the user physical feedback of the virtual object, which could range in applications from surgical procedures to product design or even interactive experiences via games and video.

What’s your opinion about all this? The way we work now doesn’t make this seem feasible, but the interface is not the only piece of technology that is going to change in the future. Will we need a mouse and keyboard in the future? How are displays going to change?

ShinodaLab Via Gizmodo


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.