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Disney’s AIREAL is the Next Generation of Haptic Technology

If you are any kind of technology geek, you really want to run a computer the way it’s done in movies like Minority Report or Iron Man. Just a few waves of the hand and some voice recognition to control a display that either floats in front of you in 3D or takes up most of the space on a wall.

Gesture recognition is part of the technology that could make that dream a reality, and Disney Research may well have invented another piece of the puzzle. The AIREAL haptic feedback system provides users with a touch experience sans screen or any other physical device.

Disney’s AIREAL brings haptic technology into the air. Courtesy of Disney Research.

 AIREAL is designed to use a vortex, a ring of air that can travel large distances while keeping its shape and speed. When the vortex hits a user’s skin, the low pressure system inside a vortex collapses and imparts a force the user can feel. The AIREAL technology is almost entirely 3D printed using a 3D printed enclosure, flexible nozzle and a pan and tilt gimbal structure capable of a 75-degree targeting field. The actuated flexible nozzle allows a vortex to be precisely delivered to any location in 3D space.
–Disney Research

Stacking multiple AIREAL systems in an area increases the haptic feedback, potentially creating a method of interacting with digital 3D objects. In place of what amounts to a haptic touchscreen, a system that allows a user to truly interact with objects made from, essentially, lights and mirrors, could be used for any number of applications. Gaming, research, medicine and many other fields would benefit from the technology.

Below you’ll find a video about AIREAL.

Source: Disney Research

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