Disney Research's AIREAL creates haptic feedback out of thin air

Disney Research is at it again. The arm of Walt's empire responsible for interactive house plants wants to add haptic feedback not to a seat cushion, but to thin air. Using a combination of 3D-printed components -- thank the MakerBots for those -- with five actuators and a gaggle of sensors, AIREAL pumps out tight vortices of air to simulate tactility in three dimensional space. The idea is to give touchless experiences like motion control a form of physical interaction, offering the end user a more natural response through, well, touch.

Like most of the lab's experiments this has been in the works for a while, and the chances of it being used outside of Disneyworld anytime soon are probably slim. AIREAL will be on display at SIGGRAPH in Anaheim from Sunday to Wednesday this week. Didn't register? Check out the video after the break.