Ultrahaptics Offers Touch Experiences For Screens, Without Touching The Screens

Way back in the corner of DSE, in the innovation zone, a Bristol, UK company called Ultrahaptics was demonstrating tech that creates the sensation of touch in mid-air, in front of digital screens.

The ultra-sound technology uses micro-blasts of air that can be sculpted to create the sensation of feeling 3D shapes, buttons, switches and magical experiences, without touching anything or needing accessories such as wearables, or handheld controllers.

It was interesting, though a little out there. It struck me as one of those things that would be intriguing at live events, where there were marketing teams drawing people over and getting them engaged. Unattended, not so sure people would walk up and know what to do.

Here’s a video of a girl using the UX coupled with a Star Wards movie campaign:

When I spoke with someone from the company at the DSE booth (very nice woman, can’t remember name and biz cards are in a moving box), she said digital signage was a new area for Ultrahaptics, with the prime vertical market being automotive. Think of touch screen controls for center consoles that drivers can control – like audio and heating/coooling – while keeping their eyes on the road.

The company recently launched the Ultrahaptics Core Asset (UCA) for Unity, a new haptics plugin designed to allow game  developers to create digital experiences in which users can feel interactions with virtual objects with their bare hands. Unity is a cross-platform game development engine.

Says the company:

The UCA, which is currently being deployed in a Closed Beta, will be released in Open Beta early in Q3 2018. It enables designers to add haptics to interactive experiences created with one of the most ubiquitously adopted 3D development platforms, Unity. The plugin will come with a range of expertly developed pre-built sensations that can easily be dropped into Unity projects. The haptic visualisation tool will show developers where haptics have been applied to objects in Unity and where sensations will be experienced. A scripting API will also be available to developers wanting to create bespoke sensations.

“We’re really excited about this tool. Now Unity developers can incorporate mid-air haptics in a way that drops seamlessly into their established workflow,” says Richard Hayden, Ultrahaptics’ Digital Product Lead. “You no longer need to be an expert to bring Ultrahaptics technology into your experiences. I can’t wait to see what the creative minds of the Unity developer community come up with!”

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
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