During its presentation at the recent Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) conference, Disney Research unveiled “REVEL,” a technology capable of adding virtual textures to common everyday objects.
According to a report, from MIT’s Technology Review, REVEL uses a tactile effect known as “reverse electrovibration.” This allows a tiny unnoticeable electrical signal into its user’s body—when the person touches an object connected to a common ground, the system then modifies the charge’s frequencies and simulates virtual textures.
The two mandatory components of this system are its user and an object that conducts electricity. This gives REVEL an innumerable combination of interactive possibilities.
Imagine touring an art gallery or museum and being able to virtually feel the textures of the painting or exhibits without the risk of damaging priceless artifacts. Better yet imagine someone with impaired vision participating in such an experience.
Since these are Disney researchers developing this technology, we are guessing we can see some application of this promising technology in Disney theme parks. We’ve written previously about Disney researchers developing new “line management” techniques, maybe REVEL will transform into interactive queuing features to help pass time while you and some screaming kids wait in line for Space Mountain.
“Sight and sound are important, but we believe the addition of touch can create a really unique and magical experience,” says Olivier Bau, REVEL’s lead researcher. “Instead of making objects and devices simulate tactile effect, we are changing your feeling of the real world. We are altering human perception. The rest of the world remains passive.”
REVEL is already mobile and has the ability to create tactile feedback on a touchscreen, such as a smartphone or tablet. Outside any theme park interaction, this could someday lead to the introduction of mobile devices with augmented reality (AR) user interfaces.
For a detailed look at REVEL in action, be sure to check out the video embedded above.