Rendering Volumetric Haptic Shapes in Mid-Air using Ultrasound

Benjamin Long, Sue Ann Seah, Tom Carter, Sriram Subramanian
Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol, UK
ACM Transactions on Graphics, 33(6), [181], 2014


   title={Rendering volumetric haptic shapes in mid-air using ultrasound},

   author={Long, Benjamin and Seah, Sue Ann and Carter, Tom and Subramanian, Sriram},

   journal={ACM Transactions on Graphics (TOG)},







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We present a method for creating three-dimensional haptic shapes in mid-air using focused ultrasound. This approach applies the principles of acoustic radiation force, whereby the non-linear effects of sound produce forces on the skin which are strong enough to generate tactile sensations. This mid-air haptic feedback eliminates the need for any attachment of actuators or contact with physical devices. The user perceives a discernible haptic shape when the corresponding acoustic interference pattern is generated above a precisely controlled two-dimensional phased array of ultrasound transducers. In this paper, we outline our algorithm for controlling the volumetric distribution of the acoustic radiation force field in the form of a three-dimensional shape. We demonstrate how we create this acoustic radiation force field and how we interact with it. We then describe our implementation of the system and provide evidence from both visual and technical evaluations of its ability to render different shapes. We conclude with a subjective user evaluation to examine users’ performance for different shapes.
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