Disney invents textured touchscreen

As with the recently unveiled electric-generating paper, the future potential applications are what capture the imagination most.

By Benzinga Oct 14, 2013 12:57PM

Disney logo (© Najlah Feanny/CORBIS SABA)By Jim Probasco


The mouse is at it again.


Disney (DIS), the company that invented animated feature films and created the multi-plane camera, not to mention "electricity generating paper," just invented a touchscreen that lets you feel the shape of objects.


Technically, the process is called "tactile rendering of 3D features." According to The Washington Post, engineers at Disney Research have developed a rendering algorithm that uses small electronic pulses to trick your fingers into feeling bumps and texture -- even though the surface is flat.


For the more scientifically curious, Disney Research Hub posted a YouTube video that explains the process in detail.


Not to detract from the amazing work of those Disney geniuses, but the notion that friction is the main path by which we perceive textures is not new. The phenomenon has been known since 2001. Disney, of course, turned theory into an actual potential product.


As with the recently unveiled electric generating paper, the future potential applications are what capture the imagination most. Consider, for example, being able to view a map on a tablet or smartphone and feel the contour -- or shop online and feel the texture of a piece of clothing before making a purchase.


On a more serious note, think how a textured screen would benefit blind users by being able to navigate through smartphone menus using Braille-aided touch. What about the ability to walk on a sidewalk, using a combination of GPS and a textured screen to avoid obstacles?


From an educational perspective, the ability to add touch to the learning experience would turn computer images into real objects in the mind of a learner. It’s one thing to look at a picture of a dinosaur fossil, another to feel the ridges of what used to be bones.

"Touch interaction has become the standard for smartphones, tablets and even desktop computers, so designing algorithms that can convert the visual content into believable tactile sensations has immense potential for enriching the user experience," said Ivan Poupyrev, director of Disney's Interaction Group.


While Disney's new algorithm has captured the headlines, others have shown interest as well. Rumors about a haptic, or touch-feedback, Apple (AAPL) iPhone or iPad touchscreen keyboard have circulated for some time. As recently as last March, there was talk of an upcoming interface based on electronic stimulation.


At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.


Read more from Benzinga

Oct 14, 2013 2:50PM
All I can think about is that this will take porn to the next level.
Oct 16, 2013 4:55AM
I hope that Disney's invention could be used to  help develop  tablets and smartphones utilizing braille so that would enable the blind to be able use them.
Oct 14, 2013 3:39PM

"All I can think about is that this will take porn to the next level."


WooHoo! At the end of the first paragraph, I had a FantasiaXXX moment feeling a 3-D shape. In each hand.

Oct 16, 2013 4:06PM

How great that is for those who are more apt to hands on...technology really can be spectacular!


Oct 16, 2013 4:07PM
How great technology can be! How great that will be for hands on! Another Step Up for science!
Oct 16, 2013 2:49PM
Please keep your tricky "small electronic pulses" OFF my fingertips. 

Thank you very much.
Oct 14, 2013 6:24PM

Now you can have any girl 3D with "Tactile Rendering"  No More Flat Chested Girls !

Hey They could even use it in clothing - The Possiblities are endless - Disney Stock has to go up on this one !  

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


StockScouter rates stocks from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, using a system of advanced mathematics to determine a stock's expected risk and return. Ratings are displayed on a bell curve, meaning there will be fewer ratings of 1 and 10 and far more of 4 through 7.

123 rated 1
273 rated 2
482 rated 3
661 rated 4
635 rated 5
639 rated 6
619 rated 7
489 rated 8
277 rated 9
166 rated 10

Top Picks




Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.

Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.

Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.