Technology similar to the clove-controlled systems used by Tom Cruise in Minority Report may not be far away thanks to researchers at Bristol University, south west England.
The team have developed a new system that simulates the feel of an object in mid-air using sophisticated sound projection. Termed "UltraHaptic" the system uses an array of ultrasonic transducers to produce waves of ultrasound.
These waves align to make an invisible layer of ultrasonic vibrations in the air above a display which can be felt by the human hand. Haptic feedback is the term given to processes that create tactile sensations for virtual objects, like smartphones vibrating in response to virtual buttons being pressed.
Tom Carter, a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science's Bristol's Interaction and Graphics group explains, "By creating multiple simultaneous feedback points and giving them individual tactile properties, users can receive localized feedback associated to their actions." Users will essentially be able to control devices with mid-air gestures and feel what's happening as a result of their actions thanks to changes in the ultrasound waves.