Disney Research isn’t looking at creating more effective cartoon characters but they are looking at changing the way that users are able to interact with touchscreen surfaces and there is work afoot for motion controlled interfaces.
The next thing that the world will see from its interfaces is haptics. Haptics is tactile feedback from a surface that wouldn’t really support it. The Xbox One, for example, will be using motors inside the new console’s controller which will be used to convey onscreen motion to users in a physical sense.
Disney is taking that a little further by developing an algorithm which will allow touchscreens to increase the sensation of friction to a user’s finger by increasing the voltage over a given section of the display. This will allow ridged or textured surfaces to be represented on a flat panel display.
The addition of texture to displays isn’t new but the University of Bristol has made other efforts in this line to dispense with the surface altogether. Called Ultra-Haptics, the university has developed a multi-point haptics system which uses an item like the Leap Motion along with a transducer array to create tactile points in mid-air. These points are created via ultrasound concentration.
We have got a couple of videos explaining in more detail how the haptics feedback effect is achieved, both on touchscreens and in the space above something like the Leap Motion controller. They’re not the most exciting of presentations but the potential for the technology makes up for that.