Researchers from The University of Tokyo’s Shinoda – Makino Lab have created a mind-blowing device that clones both images and low amounts of haptic feedback. In other words, it creates reflections that you can “touch” and can “touch” you back.
Invented by Yasutoshi Makino, Yoshikazu Furuyama and Hiroyuki Shinoda, HaptoClone has a pair of panels filled with microscopic mirrors. These panels are arranged in such a way that an object placed on the left side will be reflected on the right, and vice-versa. For example, in the image above the ball and the hand are actually on the right, but they appear to come out on the left.
The display on each side is surrounded by ultrasonic transducers. With the help of a Kinect sensor, the transducers create force fields that replicate the sensation and location of touch input. For instance, in the image up top, if you “poke” the ball’s reflection (the one on the left), your hand will be reflected on the right display. That reflection will appear to make contact with the real ball and move it accordingly. In reality, the Kinect detected your hand’s position relative to the clone ball, and then ultrasonic waves made the real ball move. It’s just that all of that happened in real time.
HaptoClone does have limitations, the main one being the transducers’ weak output – about 100mN per square centimeter. It’s enough to replicate the feeling of a high five but not a punch. Also, HaptoClone doesn’t mimic the real object’s other parameters such as texture and temperature. Nonetheless, it provides a unique and extremely immersive experience. Imagine if video chat applications had this level of haptic feedback. Head to Shinoda – Makino Lab’s website for more on HaptoClone.