How do you communicate gesture and touch from
thousands of miles away?
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have put together
a scheme that uses an array of individual actuators, or cilia, that people
can push to remotely convey physical sensations.
The scheme involves a pair of devices that look like a row of
side-by-side hairbrushes. The devices' felt-tipped bristles are mounted
on a rubber sheet, and each bristle is capable of moving independently.
A combination of magnets and electricity actuate the bristles. When a
person moves the bristles on one device the remote device communicates
the gesture by mirroring the movements.
The recipient can both see and feel the bristles moving. Behavioral
research shows that the combination of visual and tactile feedback engages
both sides of the brain and helps ensure that learned information will be
retained in long-term memory.
The device could be used to draw pictures, beat musical rhythms,
or send subtle physical gestures, according to the researchers.
The researchers are working on a prototype. The idea was inspired
by grass blowing in the wind, according to the researchers.
They presented the work at the Association of Computing Machinery
(ACM) Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference April 5-10, 2003.
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