Ultrahaptics is now closer to giving people a chance to feel holograms with their bare hands thanks to a new round of investment.
The British company announced recently that it has closed a 600,000-pound ($918,000 USD) seed round of funding for a system that projects sensations through the air so that users can physically interact with virtual objects floating in mid-air, according to the Daily Mail.
The technology is able to accomplish this feat thanks to its use of ultrasound. Prof. Sriram Subramanian, who co-developed the project at the University of Bristol's Computer Science Department, said the device makes use of forces produced on the skin by sound waves, or acoustic radiation force. These forces are strong enough to create tactile sensations on your skin.
"If you go to a night club or a rock concert, you feel the music in your chest. And it's the same principal- you feel the sound vibrating your chest," Subramanian explained, adding that low-frequency ultrasound is targeted "at a precise point on your finger tip or on your palm, and then you feel a palm vibrate and it feel precise as well."
The Ultrahaptics team is using the new money to speed up development for the device, such as making improvements to its computer power and performance, the Daily Mail reported.
The system is currently still a prototype, but its creators see it having a variety of purposes when it reaches its final form, such as letting surgeons reach "inside" holograms of a scan and feel tumors.
Facebook's Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, Google Glass and similar gadgets have managed to replicate sight and sound, but Ultrahaptics wants to provide the sense of touch when you're in a virtual environment, the Daily Mail.
"You can see the object and maybe you can interact with this object visually, but you don't feel anything. What we're offering is that missing feeling these holographic objects. That I think is the crucial distinction as well as the advantage of what we're offering," Subramanian said.
"We're not saying get rid of the holographic display. What we're saying is, attach our system to it and then you can start feeling objects as well as seeing them. This gives you better finesse, control."
The company is currently trying to find future uses for its system through an evaluation program and is looking to license the technology for consumer electronics, home appliance, automotive and other markets.