New technology allows users to literally "feel" 3D images

Posted by Mark Raby

You know how when you're watching a 3D movie, sometimes it feels like you could just reach out and grab the images that are popping out? Thanks to researchers, now you actually can.

The University of California, San Diego is working on a project called Heads-Up Virtual Reality (HUVR) that literally simulates the sensation of reaching out to a 3D projection of an image and being able to touch and feel it.

The key piece of technology is a special touch sensor that emits feedback to the user's hand and is able to manipulate it into feeling like the actual object that is being displayed. The 3D images themselves, though, can be projected on something as ordinary as a Samsung 3D TV.

Prototypes of this kind of technology have been popping up over the last decade, but every other one requires a very specific and very expensive set-up. UCSD researchers, however, are trying to make it more accessible.

The HUVR project is currently only being focused on professional applications, such as doctors who want to "physically" manipulate an MRI scan, or historians that want to examine precious documents without contaminating the paper.

Once the masses get hold of something like this, though, you can imagine the possibilities. Is virtual reality porn in the not-too-distant future? Or how about a video game where users can simulate holding an actual gun? Tantalizing, isn't it?