IBM have said at their “5 in 5” predictions that within the next 5 years, computers will have all 5 senses available to them. They say that you’ll be able to touch the screen and be able to feel what you’re looking at – be it a scaly lizard or a rough rock. How? Well, when you feel an object your brain registers the series of vibrations that you feel as being rough, smooth, sharp, etc. and computer sensors are becoming sophisticated enough to be able to duplicate that feeling.
You may think that this is new technology, but it’s been around in some form for years. When you’re playing a racing game and you drive off the road, your controller vibrates giving you the sensation of the car you’re driving vibrating as it would if it was real – it’s basically the same idea but it’ll feel a lot more life-like. Smartphones built-in vibrators will become so accurate that it’ll be able to mimic perfectly the vibrations when your fingers touch a particular surface – even though you’re just touching glass, the sensation wouldn’t be smooth.
You may think that this is just speculation but Apple have patented an advanced haptics system for a flexible OLED screen. It was speculated that it would be implemented into the recently released iPhone 5, but we weren’t that lucky. Apple will be thoroughly testing this technology out before using it on the iPhone or iPad. It’s also been featured in a prototype video released by Nokia last year, so competition to get the feature onto phones is heating up. How cool would it be though? You could feel 3D on a 2D screen. Is this a feature you’d like to see on computers and smartphones in the next 5 years?