The issue is twofold. It involves developing technologies that induce tactile sensations in human operators during the use of digital devices, as well as developing techniques that allow digital machines to obtain information when they touch objects. In this case, sensors such as load cells, thermal sensors, proximity sensors, etc. can be used. There are already many sensors available on the market for many years. The problem is mainly in miniaturizing them and embedding them in surfaces that simulate human skin. Obviously, each sensor must be followed by an analog-to-digital conversion stage.
The technology that reproduces the sense of touch in digital devices is constantly evolving. Here is an overview of the existing technologies:
- Haptic feedback: This is the most common technology for providing tactile sensations in smartphones, video game controllers, and wearable devices. Haptic feedback uses small motors, usually vibration motors, to generate forces or vibrations that simulate touch or interaction with virtual objects.
- Ultrasound technology: Some researchers have developed devices that use high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to create a tactile pressure on the user’s fingers. This technology can be used to simulate the sensation of touching virtual objects without direct physical contact.
- Electrostatic technology: This technology uses electrostatic forces to create a friction sensation on the surface of a device, such as a touch screen. This can improve the user experience by providing a sense of resistance when interacting with virtual objects.
- Electrotactile technology: Some devices use direct electrical stimulation of the skin to create tactile sensations. This technology can be used to create a wide range of sensations, such as heat, cold, pain, and light touch.
- Gloves and wearable devices: There are gloves and wearable devices that offer tactile feedback to users. These devices can include vibration motors, traction devices, and other mechanisms to simulate the sensation of grasping and touching virtual objects.
These technologies continue to be developed and improved, with new applications and devices emerging regularly.