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The Future - Haptics.

Haptics is the possibility that touch screen computers will, in a way, touch back. This can be seen as a mind manipulation. It can make a monitor of a touch screen computer, which is flat, be felt sharp or vibrate. This is due to the pressure which is felt when pushing down on a particular location of the touch screen computer. This is very useful in the medical world, as surgeons can practice using such touch screen computers. An example in this is a scalpel would feel sharp when touched, and by manipulating the pressure against the figure maybe through vibrations, this can aid the simulation. It can make it seem more real.

It is similar to fooling the eyes. For example, we can see many colour on a monitor, but in fact this image can actually consist of only three coloured pixels. Yet, our eyes deceive us to make us believe differently. Touch screen computers will potentially be able to do something of a similar manner with out touch. If a person runs a finger across a sharp object, there are two forces that are used against the skin. These are the vertical and the lateral forces. This can be manipulated in a touch screen computer by applying simply the lateral force.

They do not wish to only stop at the sensation of sharp objects, but also trick our minds into feeling textures. For example, being to feel a rough texture, or being able to feel around a shape. The realism of it shows how far touch screen computers have come. It is not yet fully invented, at least not to the standard many wish for it to be, but it is improving. Though machines could do this easily by changing shape to form differed textures, these machines are large. This is not a practical touch screen computer as it would take too much space. It is possible to fool our touch though, so this is why research has been taking place into the matter.

In order to do this, a specific mechanism is being used by the name of GRAB. It is a haptic interface, which is being worked on in Italy. The mechanism GRAB includes a thimble which is attached to a motorised arm. This arm is made so that is can extend. When someone places a finger in the thimble and moves it around, then the motors relay back a positive feedback. The movement is stopped even though there are no actual surfaces to halt it. This is all produced via the illusion on the virtual surface which has been produced on the touch screen computer.

A person could move their finger back and forth in lateral movement, and due to change in pressures, the feeling would make it appear as if they were running it across objects of varying sharpness along the touch screen computer. When this took place in a research experiment, it was very precise and detailed. Someone could even imagine what the edge would look like due to the touch. For example, by touch they could decide whether it was a smooth ball or a sharp knife.

The reason for this illusion can be explained due to how our brain relays things. The feeling of force can be more important than that of our senses that tells us how far the finger has moved along the touch screen computer. It can feel as if our figure is moving up the sharp object.

Fine surfaces can be detailed through vibrations as you press down, but larger objects with more complicated sensations can be produced by the use of alteration of force feedback. No actual pressure could even have to be applied to the skin in the future, if this development in haptic touch screen computers improve.

Though it is not actually tested enough or proven, it can be said that touch screen computers will at some point be able to stimulate pain.