With haptic feedback, a computer or machine can ‘touch’ a user by triggering receptors in their skin. A new approach to haptic feedback is the use of ultrasonic waves to generate a local pressure field, causing the user to feel a light sensation. As this technique has not been fully explored, the SHAKE project will study the effects and application domains of midair haptics to create a convincing and “pressable” virtual button.
The field of human-machine interfacing is a hot topic as more processes are automated in a wide range of industries. Haptic feedback, such as the vibration of mobile phones, allows a machine to ‘touch’ its operator to convey information. However, novel non-contact approaches are emerging in which there is no direct contact between the computer and the user’s skin. These technologies rely on the generation of midair feedback to elicit a sensation, but little is known about the user experience of ultrasonic wave-generated midair haptics.
An interdisciplinary group of experts from fields as diverse as user experience, augmented reality, acoustics, software and hardware development make up the SHAKE consortium. They will develop a safe virtual button and accompanying hardware and software that offers a convincing button-pressing experience through both visual and haptic elements.
The SHAKE consortium will study the user experience of midair haptics in three ways:
1) exploring application domains and interaction panels through four co-design workshops;
2) experiments to study experiences of midair haptics between users in a controlled lab environment, including response to intensity and patterns;
3) evaluating the experience of virtual buttons in a company-relevant environment through contextual tests of large numbers of users.
In addition to the creation of a virtual button, the project will enable members of the SHAKE consortium to broaden their understanding of haptic feedback systems and determine the market value of practical applications. A user safety report will also be written, as well as guidelines for the future use of midair haptic feedback.
“The SHAKE project will study the effects and possible applications of midair haptics generated by focused ultrasonic waves, combining haptic and visual feedback to create a convincing and ‘pressable’ virtual button.”