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Website: Miraisens, Inc.
With 3DHaptics from Miraisens, it won't be long before you will really be able to “feel” your digital devices
The world of smartphones and video games is engrossing, but until recently the connection has been through the senses of sight and sound. Thanks to the truly revolutionary products of Miraisens, Inc., a new dimension of feeling will be coming into play for citizens of the digital domain.
If you've played a game system in the last ten years or so – or, for that matter, owned a mobile phone – you've experienced it. The vibration in your pocket when you get an email, or your game controller as it rumbles to accompany on-screen action. But what if that game controller could actually push or pull your hands in one direction or the other as you turned a corner in a driving game, or if your smartphone were able to make you feel as if you were touching something with depth, even though you may have only had your fingers on a flat screen?
After meeting with Norio Nakamura, CTO and Founder of Miraisens, and Natsuo Koda, the company's CEO, it's pretty clear that this kind of experience is not far off. Over the last few years, the company has been working with a technology called 3DHaptics. The patented technology is the product of Nakamura's research into IT and neuroscience at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).
Thanks to a unique set of vibratory frequencies delivered by actuators (small motors) similar to those that can already be found in game controllers or smartphones, 3DHaptics can generate incredibly realistic sensations. Currently, two different prototypes are being used as demonstration pieces. The cube type can generate the sensation of pulling or pushing in three dimensions, while a flat panel prototype can simulate the feeling of pressing buttons with varying degrees of depth or turning a dial that registers each change in position with realistic feedback.
As Nakamura explains, “One way to think about the product is as a perceptual illusion. Just like all the colors of the world can be generated on a computer screen using the primary colors of red, green, and blue, so the three primary feelings of haptics – force, pressure, and tactile sensation – can generate the full range of the sense of touch.”
Feeling a New World of Interactivity
Koda explains that the company has 24 patents, 16 of which are registered, that cover both the vibration waveform itself, as well as the actuators to produce the vibrations. The patents are exclusively licensed from AIST.
While 3DHaptics are a natural fit for the world of gaming, Nakamura says that their possible applications are “limitless” and that they have been in talks with companies ranging from auto manufacturers to clothing labels. Cars equipped with touch screen panels could provide haptic feedback for drivers and not require that they look away from the road. Navigation using a 3DHaptics–enabled wearable device could provide the feeling of truly being pulled in the right direction. The company produces a 3DHaptics SDK for developers and a “Feeling Database” that serves as a kind of “recipe book” for simulating a broad range of touch sensations.
Miraisens continues to be a popular draw at shows like the Consumer Electronics Show and the Game Developers Conference, and we have a feeling that it’s only a matter of time before our mobile devices can – virtually – reach out and touch us.
Based on interview in February 2016
Website: Miraisens, Inc.