Technology, Hardware, RoboticsJuly 31, 2023CU Boulder engineers create groundbreaking shape-shifting display, paving the way for touch-enabled digital experiencesEngineers from CU Boulder have developed a shape-shifting display that has the potential to bring touch to the digital world. The device consists of a 10-by-10 grid of soft robotic muscles that can sense external pressure and create patterns by popping up. It is capable of generating scrolling text, shaking fluid-filled beakers, and providing a sense of touch. The technology builds upon soft robots known as Hydraulically Amplified Self-Healing ELectrostatic (HASEL) actuators. While the prototype is not yet market-ready, the researchers envision future applications such as sensory gloves for virtual gaming or smart conveyor belts. The display, which operates silently, has the potential to revolutionize various industries and lead to advancements in virtual reality and tactile experiences.The team behind the shape-shifting display at CU Boulder drew inspiration from their work on synthetic organs, aiming to create squishy organs made entirely out of silicone-like materials. However, during the development process, they realized the potential of their technology for a tabletop display. With each individual HASEL actuator functioning like a tiny accordion, the display's size is comparable to a Scrabble game board. The researchers are now focused on shrinking the actuators to increase display resolution and exploring the possibility of creating gloves that allow users to feel objects in virtual reality.
Source: University of Colorado at Boulder