AirWave: Non-Contact Haptic Feedback Using Air Vortex Rings

Input modalities such as speech and gesture allow users to interact with computers without holding or touching a physical device, thus enabling at-a-distance interaction. It remains an open problem, however, to incorporate haptic feedback into such interaction. In this work, we explore the use of air vortex rings for this purpose. Unlike standard jets of air, which are turbulent and dissipate quickly, vortex rings can be focused to travel several meters and impart perceptible feedback. In this paper, we review vortex formation theory and explore specific design parameters that allow us to generate vortices capable of imparting haptic feedback. Applying this theory, we developed a prototype system called AirWave. We show through objective measurements that AirWave can achieve spatial resolution of less than 10 cm at a distance of 2.5 meters. We further demonstrate through a user study that this can be used to direct tactile stimuli to different regions of the human body.