I penned a few posts on the work Realtime Man blog whilst in SXSW recently. I thought I'd repost here in case you missed them. This one is about touch technology.
For thousands of years humans have dreamt of having superhuman powers. From Greek mythology to cyborgs.
These superpowers are not all about physical abilities – they can be emotional shifts that enhance experiences. For example, shoes that augment your gambling experiences and give you 44% more chance to win at roulette are early enhancements to human ability.
There are two main approaches to augmenting our physical attributes: extrinsic (wearable technologies) vs intrinsic (implants and drugs).
But there is a third approach that combines the best of both worlds that take advantage of the electrical properties of the human body. (Think about the last time you were in the gym and the handles gauged your heart rate. That was your body’s electrical properties engaging with technology.)
Revel: Enhancing Tactile Perception is a research project Disney have been looking into that allows you to control the tactile attributes of objects. Put simply, you can touch a flat surface and feel whatever youwant the surface to feel like. It gives you the ability to actually control the texture of an object via an app.
Using the natural electrical properties of the human body and connecting them to specially prepared surfaces, you create a link that completes a circuit and tells your body what the surface feels like. (It’s much more complicated than that, but only technological brains the size of our Creative Technologist could explain it!)
On a human level the technology can be used to give amputees a sense of touch by being connected to their nervous system, but if you take a moment to think about what this ability to add physical aspects to virtual images could do for the iPad, for example, then the screen itself could feel like the object it is showing.
And if you’re a brand, there’s an opportunity to link your packaging to a revel-based app and give consumers the opportunity to change how your product feels. If you’re an alcohol brand for example, you could allow consumers to create a new design of the product can via an app, and then give them, and others, the ability to feel what their design actually feels like.
Or, if you’re a museum you could offer an online portal to your exhibits that allows consumers to touch the objects via their screen.
Whilst it’s still in research, it’s certainly a very exciting prospect, and one we’re excited about. Watch this space… or, feel it if you’d like to.