You know how in Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.’s lab is controlled by his hands? There aren’t any physical buttons, its all hologram-like images that he moves with just a flick of his wrist. Super cool right? The first time I saw it, I couldn’t wait for that to be our reality.
Thanks to a company called UltraHaptics, that reality is closer than we think. This technology company based in the United Kingdom is working on developing technology that “enables users to receive tactile feedback without needing to wear or touch anything.” They have made this possible through their use of ultrasonic sound waves.
UltraHaptics uses a small collection of ultrasonic speakers that emit low frequency sound waves. These waves are similar to those of the bass you feel when you go to a club. The sound waves are all concentrated to meet in one area, providing an invisible layer of ultrasound that you can feel with your hand.
Other companies have been working towards the same goal as UltraHaptics using different strategies, but UltraHaptics has added an extra layer of feedback to their technology. When someone touches the area of concentration, they feel a small vibration against their skin. By giving the feel of a force field to the user, it is easier to interact and utilize the technology.
The possibilities of this technology are endless. This technology can be used on a car’s dashboard, to make a phone’s screen larger, really anything. And with the rise of popularity in the development of this technology, many industries are eager to get involved. Tom Carter, UltraHaptic CTO, said they are working in a variety of areas including consumer electronics, home appliances, and even virtual reality. Carter recently said of their work, “I’d like to believe that the first product featuring our technology will be on the shelves in a year”.
If Carter’s hopes become reality, our world will just be so much cooler than it already is.