SensAble Technologies have a line of haptic devices (image 1) that make it possible for users to touch and manipulate virtual objects.
The term "haptic" comes from the Greek word ''haptikos,'' meaning ''able to touch or grasp," and haptic devices provide tactile information to their users in the form of force-feedback.
They are popular devices in surgery simulation. Inhibative costs have meant that more commercial examples of this type of interface tool are not so prevelant, but they are starting to arise in gaming technologies such as stearing wheels with realistic feedback.
Wired recently wrote an article about how these devices are popular among toy designers where the device is used to create a digital clay for virtual sculpting (image 2 -Digital rendering created by Brett Klisch and Michael Luk using Phantom Omni and FreeForm: Courtesy of Xomer Studios).
Read more here.
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