Disney’s REVEL tech brings texture to touch

Touch interfaces are becoming increasingly prevalent, but they crucially lack tactile feedback. Haptic feedback can help by using mechanical force, usually in the form of vibration. Electrical feedback appears to have considerably more potential. MIT’s Technology Review has the skinny on a new feedback tech being developed by researchers at Disney, of all places. Dubbed REVEL, the approach uses “reverse electrovibration” to alter one’s perception of touch. Here’s how it works:

An imperceptible electrical signal is introduced across the user’s whole body to create an oscillating electrostatic field around the skin. When touching a physical object, such as a tablet screen, that shares a common electrical ground with the REVEL signal generator, an electrostatic force modulates the friction between the sliding finger and the object to create the sensation of a texture.

Fortunately, REVEL’s body-wide electrical signal can be generated without attaching electrodes to your nipples. Looks like users can be electrified through everything from tablet casings to their own shoes. Any surface that can carry an electrical signal can be used as a textural canvas, as well.

Because REVEL changes the user’s perception, it seems to be quite flexible. According to Disney researcher Ivan Poupyrev, “the sensations at this point are carefully designed and range from feeling virtual pebbles, to fine textures, such as sand, to glassy or rubbery materials, to larger spatial geometrical patterns such as grooves, bumps.” He says more work needs to be done to simulate “really rich tactile sensations,” but it could be a while before the technology leaves the lab. One analyst quoted by Technology Review says REVEL is “at least a decade” away from making its way into commercial products.

Comments closed
    • moresmarterthanspock
    • 7 years ago

    This is good, because we all know that jumper-cables attached to the nipples can be quite painful.

    • Mike Hammock
    • 7 years ago

    Could this be used to create the sensation of virtual buttons on a phone or tablet? One reason I hate playing first person shooters on a phone or tablet is that the lack of physical controls makes it easy for one’s thumbs to wander away from the control areas. It would be neat if the phone could create the sensation that there are buttons under my fingers.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    And somewhere an “enhanced interrogation” specialist is reading this same article and grinning very wide. He sees the possibilities for applying specialized “texture perceptions” across an entire body that do not just devolve to shocking the person.

    Making someone think they are covered in spiders. Making someone experience being on fire… for hours. Making someone experience the feeling of a snake around them.

    Put them in a dark tank, tell them suggestive things or even let them hear suggestive sounds. Suddenly, they’ll fill in the blanks for what’s missing from the experience as long as the overall “feelings” are there. All in a safe, completely controlled manner that does no actual physical harm to the subject.

    Afterward, they’ll be so mentally damaged you might convince them they dreamed the whole thing. How could you sue when there’s not a mark on his body?

    Yeah, someone’s grinning a very big grin right now. There are so many possibilities and all of them are limited only by one’s imagination. Just like Walt Disney would have said. Except some people have darker imaginations than others.

      • Rageypoo
      • 7 years ago

      Logical and well thought out, i liked it.

    • ludi
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]An imperceptible electrical signal is introduced across the user's whole body to create an oscillating electrostatic field around the skin.[/quote<] Step 1: Practical jokes. "Pull my finger. Heh, heh, heh." Step 2: Learn to throw lightning bolts. Step 3: World domination.

    • Mourmain
    • 7 years ago

    Oh wait, I’ve experienced this already. The insulation on my HP Mini is not great or something, so when I slide my hand on its metal lid while it is plugged in, I feel a 50 Hz, erm, texture. If my hand stands still, there’s no sensation. Once it moves, there’s a trembling electrical pattern (that doesn’t feel too electrical at first).

    Maybe I should stop attaching my nipples to the USB port, but it’s too hard to give up.

    • fredsnotdead
    • 7 years ago

    “Electrical feedback appears to have considerably more potential.”

    intentional?

    • khands
    • 7 years ago

    If a REVEL user falls into a pool and no one else is around, does it still hurt like hell?

    • nico1982
    • 7 years ago

    This seems to be the same technology – or, at least, a technology providing the same feedback – that Senseg demoed some times ago and was rumored to have been licensed by a major IT company and to be an iPad 3 feature.
    By the way, I’m sure Apple has already a patent on this…

    Edit: [url<]http://senseg.com/[/url<] (yes, I had to google it)

      • Sargent Duck
      • 7 years ago

      Apple would take out a patent for breathing air if they were allowed…

        • liquidsquid
        • 7 years ago

        If it is over the top of something starting with a small-case ‘i’ it probably is.

          • khands
          • 7 years ago

          [i<]Brought to you by iBreathing, making mammalian life possible.[/i<]

      • insulin_junkie72
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]By the way, I'm sure Apple has already a patent on this...[/quote<] Disney lawyers vs. Apple lawyers.... THERE'S a potential legal fight for the ages.

    • krazyredboy
    • 7 years ago

    “Fortunately, REVEL’s body-wide electrical signal can be generated without attaching electrodes to your nipples.”

    Damnit!

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 7 years ago

      🙁

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      It just says it [i<]can[/i<] be done without...it doesn't rule it out as an option.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        i see this tech becoming mostly use for [s<] erotic [/s<] games.

      • zimpdagreene
      • 7 years ago

      Well I was thinking for my old lady nipples and girlfriend too!! Dam!!

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        wtf does that even mean?

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