Aireal: Interactive Tactile Experiences in Free Air
AIREAL is a new low cost, highly scalable haptic technology that delivers expressive tactile sensations in mid air. AIREAL enables users to feel virtual objects, experience dynamically varying textures and receive feedback on full body gestures, all without requiring the user to wear a physical device. AIREAL is designed to use a vortex, a ring of air that can travel large distances while keeping its shape and speed. When the vortex hits a user’s skin, the low pressure system inside a vortex collapses and imparts a force the user can feel. The AIREAL technology is almost entirely 3D printed using a 3D printed enclosure, flexible nozzle and a pan and tilt gimbal structure capable of a 75-degree targeting field. Five actuators are mounted around the enclosure which displaces air from the enclosed volume, through the flexible nozzle and into the physical environment. The actuated flexible nozzle allows a vortex to be precisely delivered to any location in 3D space.
AIREAL is part of our long term vision for creating large-scale computer augmented environments which can deliver compelling interactive experiences seamlessly, everywhere and at anytime. Free air tactile feedback technology is a key element of these future interactive spaces with a wide range of applications including gaming and story telling, mobile interfaces, and gesture control among many others.