Gel Tactile Display

A tactile display made from hydrogel has been developed by two engineers from Technical University of Dresden.


(Hydrogel tactile display)

The two scientists created a square array of 4225 blobs of temperature-sensitive hydrogel, each approximately 300 microns across and separated from its neighbours by a similar amount. Just one square centimetre of the array contains 297 of the gel "pixels".

They sit on a black polyester backing that heats up when hit by a beam of light that is narrow enough to warm individual blobs. Below 29 °C the pixels are 0.5 millimetres tall, but if heated to 35 °C they expel some of their water and become half as tall. They also become opaque and much harder to the touch.

Rapidly scanning the light beam across the black backing makes it possible to display high-resolution, tactile images (see image, top right) that change twice a second.

Once the light beam moves away from a pixel, its temperature quickly drops and the gel swells back to its previous size, sucking up its lost water.

The developers, Andreas Richter and Georgi Paschew, believe that it could form the basis of tactile displays that communicate information by touch.

This development reminds me of the nifty table display from the X-Men move.


(3D table display from the X-Men [2000])

I wonder if it uses a gel remote to control it...

From NewScientist.

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