February 13, 2019
The first voyage into the world of touch, in a virtual dimension where distances are shortened and the whole world is within reach, ready to be touched, brushed, and embraced. Physicalty is the name of the installation that the digital creative studio Monogrid and the innovative company Weart, which was created in the ‘Enterprises Factory’ e-Novia, have made for Digital Design Days which will be held in Geneva from the 11th to the 13th of February. The showcase, one of the most eagerly awaited at the international event in Switzerland, is a study that explores the possibility of augmenting physical presence or user feedback in relation to digital media. Behind the innovative experience created by the two high-tech Italian companies is the connection between two technologies: the first is the tactile actuator (a sensor that provides users with several physical sensations) made by Weart (Wearable Robotic Technology) which allows the reproduction of recorded or artificially created tactile sensations, while the second is based on projection mapping (developed by Monogrid) directly connected to the tactile actuator and consistent with the physical sensation transmitted.
But what will the visitors’ user experience be like in practice? When the user touches the sensor, the sensor will be able to record the tactile interactions between the user’s fingers, objects and the surrounding surfaces. The sensor will record the roughness of the materials touched as well as the rigidity and the temperature of the objects held. These recorded tactile signals will then be later reproduced on the skin of the user. It can reproduce three types of physical sensation in particular: vibrations, changes in temperature, and pressure. The installation will then project a visual experience on the ground, based on the sensations given by the sensor. The technological heart of the showcase is Weart, the Italian device which received worldwide praise at the recent CES in Las Vegas.
Weart is able to transmit the sensation of touch from one person to another, even over long distances, or recreate the sensations associated with a film, music, a videogame, or virtual or augmented reality, thus amplifying sensorial perceptions. The product allows the user to perceive pressure, vibrations and temperature, sensations which combine to reproduce the sense of touch. The technology was created at SIRSLab (Siena Robotics and Systems Lab), the research laboratory of the University of Siena, which specialises in robotics and technology related to handling and the sense of touch, and was developed in partnership with e-Novia through the company of the same name, and which among its founders can count Guido Gioioso, Giovanni Spagnoletti and professor Domenico Pratichizzo, as well as e-Novia, the Enterprises Factory.