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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J004448/1
Title: Exploration of Ultrasound based haptic interaction on a multi-touch surface
Principal Investigator: Subramanian, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Drinkwater, Professor B
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Microsoft XMOS Ltd
Department: Computer Science
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 February 2012 Ends: 31 January 2015 Value (£): 335,832
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Human-Computer Interactions Vision & Senses - ICT appl.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Sep 2011 EPSRC ICT Responsive Mode - Sep 2011 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Multi-touch tables, such as Microsoft Surface, are now widely available. Users can walk-up and use these systems in hotel lobbies and other public settings with very little instruction and with no need to wear or hold intrusive sensors with their hands or body. The ability to 'walk-up and use' with unadorned hands and fingers removes the barrier between human and technology, encouraging spontaneous use.

One of the primary disadvantages of current interactive surfaces is that users can touch objects, but they are unable to feel them. There are a plethora of applications where it is beneficial for the user to have their touches augmented with 'feel-based' haptic feedback. For example, medical applications, virtual training, and modelling applications require precise control from the user-haptic feedback can aid the user in effectively performing these tasks. These applications demonstrate the benefit of augmenting haptic feedback with visual feedback in an interactive application. Often, the visual space has been disconnected from the force-feedback, requiring a prolonged training period for the user to become accustomed to moving a digital object and watching the interactions a small distance away on a monitor.

In this proposal we will investigate the use of ultrasound transducers to provide 'feelable' feedback through air. The skin on a human hand can feel the ultrasonic pressure wave produced by a carefully calibrated series of transducers, in much the same manner that is apparent from loud sub-woofers on a stereo system. Ultrasound waves are outside the human's range of hearing and so provide silent, through-air haptic feedback. We will use this technology to provide multi-point haptic feedback on the surface of a multi-touch horizontal surface.

The team consists of Dr. Sriram Subramanian, Dr. Mark Marshall and Dr. Jason Alexander from the computer science departments and Prof. Bruce Drinkwater from the Mechanical Engineering department of the University of Bristol and Prof. Stephen Brewster from the Computer Science department of the University of Glasgow. The team is internationally recognised for its research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), novel integration of hardware for HCI, and Ultrasonic sensors. Microsoft research (Cambridge) and XMOS will serve as project partners and offer valuable resources and support for the project.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk