We received a notice from Alvaro Cassinelli, member of the Haptic Radar project team from the Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory at the University of Tokyo. The Haptic Radar project is running for some time with continuous improvements that might lead one day soon to a concept that could jump over to the commercial world.
The motivation for this project is to allow users to perceive and respond to spatial information using haptic cues in an intuitive and unobtrusive way. The system is build of an array of ‘optical-hair modules’, each of which senses range information and transduces it as an vibro-tactile cue on the skin.
The artificial sensory system replicates the cellular cilia, insect antennae, as well as the specialized sensory hairs of mammalian whiskers like cats whiskers.
The ultimate target of the team is to build artificial, wearable, light-based hairs which will be an invisible, steerable laser beam. Modules that are miniaturized enough to be integrated into fabrics can add another dimension to truly intelligent, sensible clothing.
The target market for such sensible clothing is diverse, ranging from aiding visually impaired people to navigate through the world without the need of using obvious aids like sticks or workers in hazardous environments like construction sides where heavy objects float around. Haptic Radar enhanced clothing will be valuable in such areas to prevent accidents.
Like the Sonar Garment from Lynne Brunning, the Haptic Radar project is an excellent example of how clothing can give back some of the senses we lost when starting cover up our body or even enhance our sensory ability through clothing with the help of wearable technologies.
Check out the Haptic Radar project site for more details and some videos demonstrating how the artificial cat whiskers work.