FEATURE21 December 2016

At the touch of a non-existent button

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Automotive Features Impact Technology UK

One step on from gesture technology, Ultrahaptics is using ultrasound to simulate the feel of control knobs in thin air. By Jane Bainbridge

Home Appliances

For years, the turn of a knob or the press of a button gave us the physical satisfaction and intuitive understanding that an on/off, increase/decrease type action had taken place. Then we adapted to the computer mouse and the way in which a horizontal movement could translate into a vertical one. 

A further leap was required with the rise of gesture technology, and while it has only been adopted in a limited number of situations, people are generally at ease with the wave of a hand turning on a tap in public toilets, or guiding a computer game. 

But what if the mid-air movement of gesture technology was combined with the tactile sensation of the push of a button? 

That is precisely what UK start-up Ultrahaptics is offering with its system manipulating highly accurate puffs of air to give the user a tactile experience without either a physical button or needing gloves or attachments. 

It ...