Fingertip-Mounted Haptic Interface Lets You Feel Virtual 3-D Objects

Tired of seeing 3-D renderings of objects on your screen and being unable to grab and fondle them? Just slip your fingers into the firm grip of Japanese haptics robot HIRO III. Driven by 15 independent motors, its black phalanges provide real-time force feedback to your hand, precisely simulating the weight and contour of virtual 3-D objects -- a pretty wild paradigmatic leap forward in interface technology!

In this video, a woman watches a 3-D shape on a screen, then gropes and explores it with the help of HIRO III. As the screen displays a virtual hand gripping the spinning polyhedron, the woman's fingertips, each clipped to one of the robot's fingers, vibrate with the movement of the virtual object.

HIRO III was developed at Japan's Gifu University, where the laboratory is currently working towards putting the haptic technology to work in manual screenings for breast cancer. While the system obviously has great potential for use in telemedicine, myriads of other uses -- gaming, for instance -- come to mind as well.

[Diginfo via Gizmodo]