Electric impulses make this device a true touchscreen

Talk about your true touchscreens—researchers from Japan’s University of Electro-Communications have created a way for people with impaired vision to feel what’s on computer and smartphone displays. Called Hamsa Touch, the project converts images from a screen into electrical impulses you can feel on your hand.

In this video researcher Hiroyuki Kajimoto explains how Hamsa Touch works: It uses smartphone as a camera along with an electro-tactile display to present the tactile image. That lets users feel what’s on the screen with a touch of their hand.

phone blind poster

The Hamsa Touch prototype is put to the test at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems last week in Toronto.

The device contains 512 photo sensors, which map to 512 electrodes. In the video accompanying this article, the device is placed directly on the screen. As a line passes under the device, it activates the electrodes, and the user feels a slight tingle of electricity.

It’s not the first time we’ve seen electricity used to aid the senses at the CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Two years ago, at the same conference, another group used electricity to change the taste of food.

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