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'Smart Fingertips' Pave Way For Virtual Sensations

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the let-your-fingers-do-the-virtual-walking dept.

Science 69

sciencehabit writes "Imagine feeling like you're lifting a 50-kilogram weight just by pulling at thin air. That's just one of the possible applications of new 'smart fingertips' created by a team of nanoengineers. The electronic fingers mold to the shape of the hand, and so far the researchers have shown that they can transmit electric signals to the skin. The team hopes to one day incorporate the devices into a smart glove that creates virtual sensations, fooling the brain into feeling everything from texture to temperature."

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69 comments

pr0n (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944299)

You were thinking it. Get it out of the way first.

Re:pr0n (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944335)

pr0n is what causes a lot of technical advances.
Come to think of it maybe most technological advances are caused to increase our entertainment.

Re:pr0n (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944457)

Yes, but the first version coming to market will only be able to play back electric torture porn. Anyway, this new invention gives the phrase "power at your fingertips" a whole new meaning.

Re:pr0n (3, Insightful)

flyneye (84093) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944529)

O.K. I'll be the one to say it. The tip we are interested in virtualizing is NOT a finger.
This could be a disease free replacement for prostitution. You could virtualize any number of kinky situations.
We all KNOW what these nano scientists had in mind hehehehehehe...

Re:pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944581)

Speak for yourself. I want a virtual "glove".

Re:pr0n (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945543)

Virtual body suit ideally.

For, um, medical stuff, yeah...

Re:pr0n (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#40946203)

Flamebait? What, do we have puritans in here?

Re:pr0n (0)

Evtim (1022085) | about a year and a half ago | (#40946683)

Perhaps someone voted your signature down? There should be space between "the" and "tech"....

Re:pr0n (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#40946957)

There is definitely a space, check your display settings.

Re:pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40949565)

Brightness is good... contrast is fine... I guess the color temperature is a bit off, but I'm not sure why that would prevent a blank from displaying.

Re:pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40950299)

your font selection could be considered a display setting

Re:pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40945243)

I'd rather wait for the technology to get some decades of use before I'd even get near it. Just the idea of putting a limb inside a device that would simulate pressure makes me think of Iron Man, you know the part where he's at a hearing and you see the competition's failed tries.

Yeah, that really changed my outlook on a lot of things.

Re:pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40945291)

It's actually surprisingly difficult to make haptic pornography with high enough resolution. "Taxels" on the tip of the finger measure ~1mm across, yet it's the complex interactions between them which create precise sensations of touch. Those complex waveforms are what's difficult to analyse and reproduce. Believe me, I've tried...

Re:pr0n (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40951243)

wow. I checked the comments to see if anyone else was thinking this. Little did I imagine it would be the first post :)

ummmmm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944305)

Tactile sensation =/= resistance... It's not going to feel like your lifting anything...

Re:ummmmm (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944383)

It would be a bit more invasive; but actuating muscles with external electrical signals isn't exactly science fiction, and I suspect that you could get a surprisingly convincing feeling of resistance if you combined a bit of externally-induced muscle tension with a strong sensation of pressure on the skin surfaces supposedly in contact with the item.

It wouldn't be quite right, since, in absence of an actual weight, you'd need to stimulate the opposing muscle group as well to keep the user's hands from just flying upward wildly, which would lead to a somewhat odd distribution of muscular effort and soreness compared to the real thing; but I suspect that the addition of realistic skin-pressure cues and/or visual overlays could probably fake the user out fairly convincingly for lighter objects.

Re:ummmmm (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944399)

Exactly !

Who lifts 50kg with their finger tips anyway - not even a static 50kg could be simulated. And even if this is expanded to whole-of-hand can it really apply 500N of force ???

Fine motor control for remote applications - whole different story and a fantastic application ...

Re:ummmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944663)

I often apply over 50kg to my finger tips and I'm not a particularly good climber (~5.11).

STFW (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944391)

Sorry guys, I didn't rtfa, but doesn't our current hand have the ability to feel temps and textures?

Re:STFW (2)

f3rret (1776822) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944443)

Sorry guys, I didn't rtfa, but doesn't our current hand have the ability to feel temps and textures?

Nope.

Re:STFW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944497)

...our current hand...

Which we use to give a collective round of applause?

Call me back when I can squeeze (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944517)

naw'msayin

isn't this a fairly old idea? (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944519)

I suppose this one is more miniaturized, but "virtual reality" and "haptics" people have been trying this sort of thing for a while, without having yet really come up with a compelling win. Here [google.com] is a 1995 Popular Science article about a device that takes basically the same approach to characterizing what constitutes texture perceived by fingertips (by simulating sliding/bumpiness/resistance/stickiness). Available for only $20,000! And a 1996 textbook [amazon.com] devoted large sections to the topic as well.

Re:isn't this a fairly old idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40951167)

A related technology is electrovibration. Wikipedia says "the history of electrovibration goes back to 1954." You touch a surface with an insulator, and an alternating current underneath creates a static charge on your skin. As you move your finger over the surface it is pulled into the surface and feels like friction. The charge doesn't go deep enough into your skin to affect your nerves directly.

The article is unclear on what this technology is. It seems like they are running a current through your finger nerves.

Nano, eh? (3, Insightful)

T Murphy (1054674) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944817)

a team of nanoengineers

I think the politically correct term would be "vertically challenged engineers".

Re:Nano, eh? (2)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945245)

a team of nanoengineers

I think the politically correct term would be "vertically challenged engineers".

When, oh when, will we be able to live in a world where the "nano-ness" of an engineer is no longer noteworthy? Do you really want to live in a world where it is okay to deride someone with comments like "From small minds come small ideas", or "She uses CGS because MKS is too big for her", or "Why are you crying? Got a Planck in your eye?", and the like? Think of the wee children.

Re:Nano, eh? (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#40946327)

a team of nanoengineers

I think the politically correct term would be "vertically challenged engineers".

So, they're essentially two dimensional? How strange.

only needed to read the title (2)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about a year and a half ago | (#40944829)

To know exactly where the comments on this post were going to start...and probably finish...with a bang

Imagine this used with the Leap interface. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40944951)

http://leapmotion.com/

Admittedly, one is vapour so far, and the other isn't anywhere near a commercial product, but still... haptic feedback to your gestures in mid air - imagine the possibilities.

Nothing can go wrong with this. (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945097)

So, how long before someone comes up with a torture device that can fool your body into thinking it's on fire?

Re:Nothing can go wrong with this. (1)

Jade_Wayfarer (1741180) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945397)

Actual hot iron would be much simpler and cost-effective. Plus you can always iron your shirt with it. Or, since this is Slashdot, use the soldering-copper for this purpose (not for the ironing, of course).

Re:Nothing can go wrong with this. (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945507)

But if you can transfer the impression of being on fire, without physically injuring the subject, then you go much further with the torture, until, I suspect, the person just goes loo-la.

Re:Nothing can go wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40945861)

You mean, like in Dune?

Re:Nothing can go wrong with this. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945985)

Re:Nothing can go wrong with this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40947497)

Those don't actually work.

Ever see whale wars? They just ignore the damn things.

Re:Nothing can go wrong with this. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#40947829)

You're thinking of sonic weapons which are a different thing (although they look kind of similar). This is a microwave weapon.

Wow! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40945261)

I love the Penisglove. It's so bad.

Bond ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40945337)

This sounds suspiciously like they want to build the game from Never Say Never Again, where you zap your opponent as you win.

Viruses (1)

caspy7 (117545) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945555)

Patiently awaiting the day there's malware that makes you feel like your hands are on fire.

"What happened to your hand?" "Hackers." (3, Funny)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year and a half ago | (#40945797)

A glove that makes me feel sensations is great and all, but I do hope it comes with some pretty heavy security limitations and so on... Wouldn't want some hacker to get access to my machine and burn my hand, or shock it, or even just cause extremely unpleasant sensations to it as a form of blackmail or just for kicks. Sure, "just take it off"... not so easy if both your hands are spasming because you feel they are stuck into a fire or something.

Re:"What happened to your hand?" "Hackers." (1)

neminem (561346) | about a year and a half ago | (#40946185)

If it were just the sensation, and didn't actually cause your hand to be burned or shocked or whatever... I bet you'd have a new untapped market for that. An... adult market, let's say.

Re:"What happened to your hand?" "Hackers." (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year and a half ago | (#40946505)

First off, to the people you are referring to it wouldn't matter if they were actually shocked and burned or whatever. They do that for fun. Secondly, they don't find it fun when it happens to them non-consensually, e.g. because their system was hacked. Which is what this thread is about - the porn thread you'll find higher up.

As for whether it matters if the sensations are caused by the stimuli - no it doesn't. Your body still reacts to pain whether it's real or not. if you perceive you are being shocked or burned, then that's what your body will react to. That's a horrible power to put in the hands of someone with access to your computer.

Re:"What happened to your hand?" "Hackers." (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year and a half ago | (#40949663)

I feel that the fact that people modded this funny really proves that this is a valid concern.

Re:"What happened to your hand?" "Hackers." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40957673)

While the article is a little bland (a "mild tingling" is what I've gotten when I accidentally touched some exposed circuits... been able to do that for decades), I think if we *could* get to the point of simulating sensations like extreme heat of physical crushing... it presents a scary line of curiosity.

How far can we take it? Could we simulate extreme pain without actually doing damage? Make someone feel like their hand is burning, and now you have a torture device that leaves no (or very little) physical scars (but probably plenty of mental ones).

Just remember - "Fear is the mind killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration." :)

Re:"What happened to your hand?" "Hackers." (1)

Havenwar (867124) | about a year and a half ago | (#40957751)

Well I have to wonder though, at that point we probably have the technology to introduce the mental scarring directly. I.e. to confuse and disorient people with chemicals or certain signals in ways that mean torture is needless. More akin to just hacking the psyche directly rather than brute forcing it, I suppose.

tits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40945957)

What I would give to feel real tits again.

Re:tits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40948699)

What I would give to feel real tits.

FTFY.

Downloadable sensation samples (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about a year and a half ago | (#40946971)

*****FILE LIST****** 1. semi.erect.nipplev1.0-PRONSTARS 2. saucer.nipplev3.0-PRONSTARS 3. fully.erect.nipplev12.0-PRONSTARS 4. . . and so on
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