Augmented reality, once the realm of sci-fi books and imaginative gamers, is now part of our everyday lives. The Microsoft Kinect has become a staple in the living rooms of homes around the world, but it’s missing one thing: the sensation of touch.
Research conducted by University of Illinois PhD candidate Rajinder Sodhi and Disney Research’s Ivan Poupyrev resulted in a fascinating new technology. It’s called the Aireal, and when it’s activated it sends out tiny puffs of air that let you feel textures and objects in mid-air.
According to the inventors, the sensation is nothing like air simply blowing on your skin. The apparatus consists of five subwoofers that track your body movements. The machine pushes air out rapidly through a hole and can adjust the puffs of air to mimic textures such as sand, water, or stone.
There are no special gadgets to wear, no complex wired systems to install. The Aireal can be used to simulate sensations like a flock of birds flying around the room or a butterfly landing on your hand.
There is still a lot of refinement and research to be done on the Aireal, but the technology is all available today. It’s inexpensive and can bring a whole new level of sensations to your entertainment experience.