Interactive display guides users by getting sticky

Interactive display guides use...
The StickyTouch prototype in use
The StickyTouch prototype in use
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The StickyTouch prototype in use
The StickyTouch prototype in use
A diagram of the StickyTouch sytem
A diagram of the StickyTouch sytem

We've already seen tactile-feedback displays that convey information by applying tiny vibrations to the user's fingertips. An experimental new technology takes a different approach, however – it gets sticky in select areas.

Appropriately known as StickyTouch, the system is being developed by scientists at Japan's Osaka University.

In its present state, it consists of a stainless steel plate which is covered with a temperature-sensitive polymer film, and that sits over a grid of 64 heating modules. The setup is hard-wired to a desktop computer, the display of which is projected onto the film.

Called Intelimer Tape, that film is ordinarily slick to the touch. When heated to over 40 ºC (104 ºF), though, it temporarily becomes tacky. Therefore, by selectively activating different heating modules, StickyTouch is able to make its surface sticky in specific areas. Those areas correspond to the screen content that's currently being projected onto them.

A diagram of the StickyTouch sytem
A diagram of the StickyTouch sytem

Among other things, the technology could allow users to scroll through lists of files, with the names of files that contain more information feeling stickier than others. It could also be used to limit how quickly users are able to flip through onscreen pages, in order to make sure that they pay attention to important content.

Finally, StickyTouch could additionally allow blind users to "feel" displayed images, with different parts of those images being either sticky or smooth.

The system was presented last week at the SIGGRAPH Asia 2019 conference, held in Brisbane, Australia.

Source: Osaka University

How long does the transition take? (I also wonder about using this as an aid for the visually impaired -- they'd have to be touch-impaired as well not to notice how hot an area was.)
because touch input surfaces aren't hard enough to clean already