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Feel your videogames with Aireal

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Kinect, when it actually works properly, allows you to manipulate virtual items in mid-air. Here’s some new tech that would allow you to feel them. Once it’s working properly.

Utilising a set of re-jiggered speakers that send out puffs of vibrating-at-low-frequency air instead of sound, the Aireal, made by Illinois PhD student Rajinder Sodhi and Disney Research’s Ivan Poupyrev will allow you to very nearly feel virtual objects and textures.

And while its output is unfortunately audible, that’s something that could be muffled in the future. It does, however, apparently feel quite nice.

"The sensation is quite pleasant," Poupyrev says. "It’s not like air blowing onto your body. The air ring is a traveling low-pressure bubble. When it collapses, the air from outside rushes in, and it creates force at this particular point. It’s [a] very localized, sharp puff of air."

(Unrelated: I tend to let out a very localised, rather sharp puff of air under the blankets every night before pulling the duvet over the wife’s head. I’m a classy fellow that way. )

The system, much like the current iteration of Kinect is also a little bit laggy – but that too, could go away in the future. Imagine this tech maturing, and using it in parallel with Kinect 2.0 and Oculus Rift; You’d be able to do and feel things in virtual reality.  It’ll get so real, that you may as well just go outside and do things for real instead.

Last Updated: July 23, 2013

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