I went down to the LA Convention Center yesterday for the first day of SIGGRAPH, the annual computer graphics convention. Once of the coolest things I saw in the Emerging Technologies area was this tactile display for light and shadow called Touch Light Through the Leaves. It was created by Kunihiro Nishimura who says:
Touch Light Through the Leaves consists of a camera and 85 vibration units. The camera detects light and shadow, and the vibration units, controlled via image processing and vibration motors, change those inputs into tactile sensations. The display is palm-sized, so it can be used anywhere under various conditions.
People who have experienced this display report weird, new sensations. In their daily lives, light and shadow are perfectly ordinary, but when they feel light and shadow directly on their palms, they are “touched” by light for the first time.
I tried it out and agree that it’s an interesting sensation to feel light and shadow through the sense of touch. Next up, I’d like to walk through the dappled light of a forest trail while wearing a full-body tactile display leotard.
They had a few versions on display, including this lower resolution unit which runs off of a couple of Arduino Nanos and has pager motors inside drinking straws acting as actuators.