Researchers at Singapore-based Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have discovered a way to 'cybertouch' by transmitting tactile movements over the internet. A project presented at the CyberWorld International Conference held last week at NTU demonstrated sending touch through the internet using a live chicken.
The process works by dressing the chicken in a 'sensory jacket' that can record and transmit the animal's movements. Movement data is sent over the internet from a remote computer that is simultaneously monitoring the animal over a web camera. The movement data is synchronised with the remote image of the chicken, so that upon touching the image, the jacket acts as a touch conductor, imitating the heat, pressure, and vibrations of the real touch and passing them onto the chicken. As a result, the chicken 'feels' the contact.
The concept of sending 'feeling' through the internet was developed by NTU researchers as a way for pet owners and parents of young children to maintain a degree of physical contact while away from their loved ones.
Although the touch process does not require a fast internet connection, the project is still in the early stages of development, without any idea of price range, or product availability to the consumer.
According to researcher James Teh, involved in the project's two-year development, wireless 'hugs' are the next move forward.
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