The development of haptic systems for telepresence, teleoperation, and virtual reality has long been focused on creating devices that enable users to interact with virtual three-dimensional (3D) items or surroundings floating in midair without any physical objects. By concentrating ultrasound output from phased arrays of transducers, emerging 3D holographic haptic displays can provide such tactile feedback in midair. The skin is deformed by nonlinear acoustic radiation pressures caused by incident ultrasound.

However, current holographic haptic systems furnish tactile sensations that are diffuse and faint, with apparent spatial resolutions that are far coarser than would be theoretically predicted from acoustic focusing.

A UC Santa Barbara research team has discovered a new phenomenon that leads to upcoming holographic haptic displays and may lead to more appealing virtual reality experiences.

The formation of shock waves creates a trailing wake pattern.
Yon Visell is an associate professor in UCSB’s Faculty of Engineering whose research focuses on interactive technologies, especially haptics, robotics, and electronics, said, “Our new study explains why such holograms feel much more diffuse or indistinct than would be expected.”

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