November 05, 2015

Ultrahaptics touchable holograms and sonic levitation

Ultrahaptics has developed a unique technology that enables users to receive tactile feedback without needing to wear or touch anything. The technology uses ultrasound to project sensations through the air and directly onto the user. Users can ‘feel’ touch-less buttons get feedback for mid-air gestures or interact with virtual objects.

Touchable holograms and sonic levitation and sonic tractor beams

Ultrahaptics was founded in 2013 based on technology originally developed at the University of Bristol, UK. The company secured Seed Funding in 2014 to allow for the further development of the technology and the expansion of the engineering team. Ultrahaptics is currently engaged with tier 1 customers, from multiple markets, with their recently launched Evaluation Program.

Researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol, in collaboration with Ultrahaptics, had recently annuonced a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude soundwaves to generate an acoustic hologram that can pick up and move small objects.

The team is now designing different variations of this system. A bigger version with a different working principle that aims at levitating a soccer ball from 10 meters away; and a smaller version, targeted at manipulating particles inside the human body.

It could be developed for a wide range of applications. For example, a sonic production line could transport delicate objects and assemble them, all without physical contact. Or a miniature version could grip and transport drug capsules or microsurgical instruments through living tissue.

The researchers used an array of 64 miniature loudspeakers (driven at 40Khz with 15Vpp. The whole system consumes 9 Watts of power) to create high-pitched and high-intensity sound waves to levitate a spherical bead (of up to 4mm in diameter) made of expanded polystyrene

Asier Marzo, PHD student and lead author, levitating a polystyrene ball with soundwaves.

Schematic rendering of the working volume of previously suggested manipulator

Argonne National Labs also worked with sonic levitation

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