Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - 27

Another application of this technology,
which has recently received high levels of
interest, is the augmentation of immersive
virtual environments, such as the proposed
metaverse.
" The touch sensations that would be required
to really immerse yourself into a reality
that is fully digital requires huge advancements
in touch perception, " said
Felts. " What we've done is essentially created
an entirely new way to modulate the perception
of touch that hasn't existed before. "
The team is working to show that it is
possible to mimic the unique mechanical
and thermal sensations associated with
different surface textures and shapes.
Their recent publication in the journal
Science Robotics demonstrates the potential
for translating these sensations on a
touchscreen by using temperature variation
alone, rather than expressing them
through ultrasonic vibrations or electroadhesion
methods.
" We were actually surprised by the magnitude
of the friction increase we were
able to achieve, " Hipwell said. " Its magnitude
is competitive with current surface
haptic devices, meaning that there is another
option for friction modulation in
surface-haptic device rendering. "
Another exciting development, Hipwell
said, is their research has shown that
Researchers have shown that temperature variation can help simulate virtual shapes on touchscreen
devices. (Image: Texas A&M Engineering)
it is possible to localize the friction to the
outer layer of the skin and, at least at
swipe speeds, control friction without
making the device feel hot.
The team is continuing their work to address
challenges facing the approach by
further exploring the complexities of the
finger-device interface and variations that
occur due to environmental and skin-property
differences. They also hope to look at
design improvements for miniaturization
and integration into touchscreens.
For more information, contact Amy Halbert
at ahalbert@tamu.edu; 979-458-4243.
Three-Dimensional Electronic Flying Microchip
The size of a grain of sand, dispersed microfliers could monitor air pollution, airborne
disease, and environmental contamination.
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
E
ngineers have added a new capability
to electronic microchips: flight.
About the size of a grain of sand, the
new flying microchip (microflier) does
not have a motor or engine. Instead, it
catches flight on the wind - much like
a maple tree's propeller seed - and
spins like a helicopter through the air
toward the ground. The microfliers also
can be packed with ultra-miniaturized
technology including sensors, power
sources, antennas for wireless communication,
and embedded memory to
store data.
By studying maple trees and other
types of wind-dispersed seeds, the engineers
optimized the microflier's aerodynamics
to ensure that when dropped at a
high elevation, it falls at a slow velocity in
a controlled manner. This behavior stabilizes
its flight, ensures dispersal over a
Tech Briefs, June 2022
broad area, and increases the amount of
time it interacts with the air, making it
ideal for monitoring air pollution and
airborne disease.
To design the microfliers, the team
studied the aerodynamics of a number
of plants' seeds, drawing its most direct
inspiration from the tristellateia plant,
a flowering vine with star-shaped seeds.
Tristellateia seeds have bladed wings
that catch the wind to fall with a slow,
rotating spin.
The team designed and built many different
types of microfliers, including
one with three wings, optimized to similar
shapes and angles as the wings on a
tristellateia seed. To pinpoint the most
ideal structure, full-scale computational
modeling was done of how the air flows
around the device to mimic the tristellateia
seed's slow, controlled rotation.
www.techbriefs.com
About the size of a grain of sand, the new flying
microchip does not have a motor or engine. Instead,
it catches flight on the wind and spins like
a helicopter through the air toward the ground.
(Image: Northwestern University)
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Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022

Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - Intro
Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - Sponsor
Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - Band1
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Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - Cov1
Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - Cov2
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