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In Brief

Disney Creates 'Feel-able' Touchscreens

Forget 3D movies. The creative geniuses at Disney Research are trying to take things one step further, by adding a new element of realism to the digital world: the sense of touch. Disney's scientists are developing a special rig that uses electro-vibrations to enable people to "feel" objects on their touchscreens, according to Wired.

In addition to enhancing the digital experience, this technology could revolutionize online shopping. For instance, a shopper could feel the softness of a sweater before deciding to purchase it online. This touch-sensitive technology builds upon the idea that the human brain perceives different feels based on the changes in friction experienced from touching different surfaces.

Disney developed an algorithm to calculate how much voltage is needed to create vibrations that simulate such different tactile sensations on a flat touchscreen. Wired called it, "a deft bit of psychophysical trickery," but either way, it's a fascinating bit of "Disney magic."

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Denise Chow
Denise Chow is the Assistant Managing Editor at Live Science. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for Space.com, where she wrote about rocket launches and covered NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.