Microsoft Research has demonstrated a new mechanically-actuated hand-held controllers that render the shape of virtual objects through physical shape displacement, enabling users to feel 3D surfaces, textures, and forces that match the visual rendering.
They have published the results of their investigations in the Proceedings of the 29th Annual Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology and demonstrate two such controllers, NormalTouch and TextureTouch, which are tracked in 3D and produce spatially-registered haptic feedback to a user’s finger.
NormalTouch haptically renders object surfaces and provides force feedback using a tiltable and extrudable platform. TextureTouch renders the shape of virtual objects including detailed surface structure through a 4×4 matrix of actuated pins.
By moving the controllers around while keeping your finger on the actuated platform, users are able to obtain the impression of a much larger 3D shape.
MSR found their controllers significantly increases the accuracy of VR interaction compared to the two de-facto standards in Virtual Reality controllers: device vibration and visual feedback only.
See the video presentation below and find the full paper here.