The Kajimoto Group at the University of Electro-Communications is doing research on a new type of input device. This technology uses electrical stimuli to create a phenomenon called the sliding illusion.
While the fingertip is in contact with a surface, the user exerts a force in a certain direction, and is given an electrical stimulus that moves in the direction opposite to the force. Although the fingertip isn’t moving, the user feels as if the finger is sliding in the direction of the force. It’s thought that this sliding illusion can be utilized to give the sensation of position-dependent data input, without the user having to move their finger.
“First of all, the finger is placed on an electrode, and it’s given a continuous electrical stimulus that moves along a line from top to bottom. The user closes their eyes, and exerts a force in the direction of the fingertip. Then, even though the finger isn’t moving, the user feels as if it’s slid along the surface.”
At present, this technology hasn’t been built into a device that actually enables data input. But once that is achieved, it’s thought that the sliding illusion can create a pointing device that feels like a touchpanel, in an input environment with a small area, like a pointing stick.
“Right now, our research is focusing on creating the sliding sensation. Because we think that, in touchpanels, for example, faster input will be necessary, we’re looking at the sliding sensation that occurs with touchpanels. What we’ll look at next is how to create the sensation of fast and slow sliding.”