Researchers unveil system that enables users to feel touch at a distance

FEEL TECH: Researchers expect the system to be used for healthcare, sport, education and ecommerce

Researchers in Japan have unveiled a system that allows users to communicate physical sensations and haptic information between devices and could enable contactless augmented interactions across a range of use cases including healthcare, sport, education and ecommerce.

The Feel Tech human augmentation platform has been developed by Japanese mobile network operator NTT Docomo, Keio University’s Embodied Media Project and Nagoya Institute of Technology’s Haptics Lab and “will make it possible to share sensations that conventionally have been difficult to convey through images, sound, text or words alone”, the researchers say.

“Accordingly, the system is expected to find practical applications in fields that rely on human senses, such as medicine and art.

“Also, shoppers on ecommerce sites could use it to experience the subtle feel of clothing fabrics, among other rich experiences not possible using other advanced technologies such as 3D or augmented reality.”

The system works by enabling a device that detects a person’s sensory state to share haptic sensations “quantified in terms of human-touch vibrations measured with a device similar to a piezoelectric sensor” with other devices connected to the platform that then reproduce those vibrations for other users.

“Haptic sensations and corresponding video images are shared from one person to another person (‘target’). To achieve crucial synchronisation of the haptic and video data being shared, the platform is expected to make full use of the ultra-low latency that will be offered in forthcoming 6G mobile networks,” the researchers explain.

“Furthermore, the platform can record the presenter’s sense of touch and share it with the target over time.

“For example, an amateur craftsman could use the system to grasp the subtle techniques of a master craftsman, or individuals could use it to haptically recall sensations etc [that] they experienced at a younger age.”

NTT Docomo will be introducing the Feel Tech system at its Open House 23 online event on 2 February and at MWC Barcelona on 27 February.

Researchers unveil system that enables users to feel touch at a distance was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.