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Disney Research AIREAL Lets You Feel Digital Experiences

There is a lot of really interesting technology being worked on lately and I just saw something really interesting from Disney Research Labs in Pittsburgh called AIREAL. It create a series of directed, small rings of air that lets users actually feel virtual objects, experience dynamically varying textures and receive feedback on full body gestures all without the user wearing any physical device. It uses a vortex of air because it can travel large distances while keeping its shape and speed but when the vortex hits a user’s skin, the low pressure system inside a vortex collapses and imparts a force the user can feel.

The system is entirely 3D printed using a 3D printed enclosure, flexible nozzle and a pan and tilt gimbal structure capable of a 75-degree targeting field. Five actuators are mounted around the enclosure which displaces the air through a flexible nozzle and into the physical environment. Its really interesting to think about the design possibilities for technologies like this that are working to break digital experiences free of the screen into tactile feedback technologies for gaming and story telling, mobile interfaces, and gesture control interfaces. You can watch the video above to see it in action.

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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