Microsoft Research has come up with a clever way to let users actually feel what they're interacting with on a touchscreen. And it doesn't involve complex finger contraptions, or bulky gloves. Instead, the researchers simply installed the display on a robotic mount that moves in response to where and what is being touched, simulating an interaction with what's on-screen.
For example, touching something solid and heavy like a brick would provide more resistance than something light like a balloon, where the screen would push back more easily against your finger. And through these simple movements the system could even let you 'feel' the shape of objects that are round, or square.
Since it's still in the earliest of research stages Microsoft doesn't have any immediate plans for the technology, although, as the demo illustrates, it could one day provide a more interactive way for doctors to study an MRI scan in 3D. And it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how this could pave the way for an interactive Piano Hero game (finally!) on future versions of the Xbox. [YouTube via IEEE Spectrum]