Bristol University Tech Uses Ultrasound To Create 3D Shapes You Can See And Touch

A lot of people are inventing many ways they see humans controlling computers in the future. A team at Bristol University have had a go at answering this question by using focused ultrasound to create 3D haptic shapes out of air that you can see and touch. 

So the question is simple, how do you make something you can see out of thin air? The tech, led by Dr. Ben Long and colleagues from University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science, uses a thin layer of oil manipulated by ultrasound patterns to create shapes that can be seen when lit by a lamp. These 3D shapes can then be seen and felt by the user.

“Touchable holograms, immersive virtual reality that you can feel and complex touchable controls in free space, are all possible ways of using this system," Dr. Ben Long, Research Assistant from the Bristol Interaction and Graphics (BIG) commented.

“In the future, people could feel holograms of objects that would not otherwise be touchable, such as feeling the differences between materials in a CT scan or understanding the shapes of artefacts in a museum.”

Future uses could include letting surgeons feel a tumor while exploring a CT scan, or allowing you to turn virtual knobs on the car's infotainment systems without taking your eyes off the road.

Fascinating stuff.