How can I feel an invisible tactile sensation?

Ultrahaptics uses ultrasound to create and manipulate focused points of high acoustic pressure. These Control points can be moved around in real-time to interact with our hands to create a sensation. The surface of the hands are covered with sensitive nerve endings called mechanoreceptors. Because these are not sensitive to a constant high pressure the control points are manipulated, either by moving them – Spatio-Temporal Modulation – or changing their intensity with a lower frequency wave – Amplitude Modulation.

Ultrahaptics Acoustic field

You can read more about tactile sensations, mechanoreceptors and how they relate to our technology here.

The Leap Motion® camera module, or any third part tracking system, provides the position of the hands and fingers. Combined with Ultrahaptics’ API, the control points can be moved around to follow the hand, creating patterns and sensations.

Is everyone’s sensitivity to Ultrahaptics the same?

The sensitivity of the palm of the hands can vary between individuals, based on age, health and condition of the skin. However, with some learning and “tuning” of your perception, your sensitivity to Ultrahaptics can be increased.

Can my sensitivity to Ultrahaptics change?

Your age can affect your perception of the mid-air haptics provided by Ultrahaptics, and this may change your sensitivity as you become older. However, much like your sense of hearing and smell, tuning yourself to the Ultrahaptics sensations has a greater effect on improving your sensitivity than any age related changes.

Is there any difference in sensitivity to Ultrahaptics between men and women?

Independent of skin condition and hand size, there is no significant evidence of differences in sensitivity between men and women.

Can I use Ultrahaptics with gloves?

Ultrasound, at the frequencies used by Ultrahaptics, does not readily pass through solids and is quickly absorbed by thick fabrics such as leather, wool or cotton. However, if the material is thin enough and perforated, sensations can still be felt.

We have also found that Ultrahaptics works very well with thin rubber gloves, i.e. Latex or nitrile surgical gloves. The ultrasound will work best if the gloves are tight fitting or taught across the palm.

What is the resolution of the Ultrahaptics system?

Each of our Ultrahaptics kits come with the Leap Motion® camera module and an ultrasound array. The Leap Motion® camera module uses visible and infrared light to track hand position and as such, has a very high resolution, typically sub-millimetre. You can read more about how the Leap Motion® camera module works here.

The Ultrahaptics array uses ultrasound to create the control points felt by you in mid-air. The dimensions of the control points are determined by the wavelength of the ultrasound. Currently, our technology uses transducers with a frequency of 40kHz, i.e. a wavelength of approximately 8mm. So each control point will be approximately 8mm in diameter.

However, the Ultrahaptics array is capable of steering the position of these control points with a much higher resolution and at a very high update rate, allowing accurate placement of each on the fingers and hands and the creation of immersive and tangible haptic sensations.

How do I create my own Ultrahaptics sensations?

Use the Ultrahaptics API or the Sensation Editor and example reference code to integrate Ultrahaptics into your applications.

Our SDK comes with example code that shows you how to use both our Amplitude Modulation and Time Point Streaming APIs.

With the TOUCH Development Kit, use Amplitude Modulation and directly define the strength, coordinates and modulation frequency of up to four control points, at up to twice the modulation frequency.

The STRATOS Explore and Evaluation Kit (UHEV1) support the more advanced Time Point Streaming (TPS) API. We also provide a Unity Game Engine library and example code. Read more about integration with Unity here.

With the Sensation Editor, generating and modifying sensations becomes a simple task. Available to all Ultrahaptics customers, use the Sensation Editor to export Ultrahaptics Sensation Packages and integrate into your application using our reference C/C++ example code.

Does your SDK support Linux or ARM® platforms?

As of version 2.5.0 , our SDK supports Linux on platforms with the following processor architectures:

  • Intel® x86 (32-bit)
  • Intel® x86_64 (64-bit)
  • ARM® ARMhf (ARMv7)
  • ARM® AArch64 (ARMv8)

What language does the API use?

We currently provide Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in C++ and C# as part of our SDK.

C++ is the de facto industry standard for producing high performance applications across a multitude of platforms, be it consumer devices or embedded systems.

C# is highly suitable for developing sophisticated applications on host and embedded systems and is widely used on Microsoft Windows and many game development platforms, including Unity.

We also provide an integration package for the Unity® Gaming Engine.

Where can I find project files for my IDE?

We include example code as part of the Ultrahaptics SDK to get you up and running. While we do not provide specific project files, we do include a CMake file – CMakeLists.txt – that can you can use to generate project files for your favourite Integrated Development Environment. Please read our Knowledge Base article on building the example code to find out more about CMake.

What’s in the Software Development Kit?

  • Ultrahaptics transducer array driver – host side application processing and USB communications
  • Tracking camera alignment files
  • Application Programming Interface (API), written in C++ and C#
  • Demo Application
  • Unity Game Engine library (separate download for Mac OS pre version 2.2.2)
  • Example application code illustrating Amplitude Modulation and Time Point Streaming
  • Documentation, including API, health and safety, alignment and installation.

Where can I find my serial number?

There are a number of places for locating your serial number, depending on which kit you have:

  • For the STRATOS Explore Development Kit and TOUCH Development Kit, there is a label on the back of the smaller logic board. Serial numbers begin USX-00 for STRATOS Explore Development Kits and UHDK5-00 for TOUCH Development Kits.Ultrahaptics TOUCH Logic Board
  • For the Evaluation Kit (UHEV1), the serial number can be found on a white label on the bottom of the logic board or on the original box. Some older kits may not have a visible label on the board.
  • Using Sensation Editor, connect your device and hover over the device icon in the top-left corner of the viewing panel.

I can’t get the demo to run properly

Make sure your host system satisfies the system requirements* and that you have installed the correct SDK for your platform (32 or 64-bit), that your kit is correctly connected and powered on. The STRATOS Explore Development Kit and TOUCH Development Kit have a separate power switch on the control board. See the User Guide for more details.

Both the Leap Motion® camera module and the transducer array require separate USB connections. On starting the demo, you will see the Ultrahaptics splash screen. If you need to connect any hardware the demo will prompt you to do this now.

Please also ensure that you have installed the correct Leap Motion® camera module drivers for your platform: Leap Motion V2**.

* Windows 7 users must manually install a separate USB driver. Some users have reported poor performance due to the Leap Motion® camera module’s processing requirements.

**Leap Motion®‘s Orion has been known to disconnect intermittently on Windows platforms while running the demo app.

How should the transducer array be oriented?

There are no restrictions on the orientation of the array itself, but the array must not be covered by any solid materials and the area between array and hand must not be obstructed. The hand will also need to be clearly visible to the tracking camera and, for the optimal Ultrahaptics experience, the palm of the hand should face the array.

What is Amplitude Modulation?

Ultrahaptics uses high-frequency ultrasound to transmit sensations to the surface of the hand. The surface of the skin is not sensitive to ultrasound alone and is therefore modulated, either by moving it around or changing its intensity.

Amplitude Modulation (AM) is Ultrahaptics’ first generation mode of operation and uses a low-frequency signal, typically 50 Hz to 300 Hz, to change the intensity of the control points. Application programmers can control this frequency, control point positions, and strength, but updates only take effect when intensity is at its minimum (zero-crossings).

What is Time Point Streaming?

Time Point Streaming (TPS) is an advanced mode of operation, available on the STRATOS Explore and Evaluation Kit (UHEV1), that allows for a continuously changing signal to be sent to the Ultrahaptics array. A sensation signal can be sent in real-time using a high-frequency API callback. Giving the user direct control over the signal, it unlocks the possibility of using Amplitude Modulation as well as Spatio-Temporal Modulation to create new sensations and virtual shapes and surfaces.

Can I use a different hand tracking camera?

The STRATOS Explore, TOUCH Development Kit and Evaluation Kit (UHEV1) all come packaged with a calibrated Leap Motion® camera module, any third-party camera tracking system that provides spatial coordinates can be used*. You will need to create an alignment .xml file to match your alternative tracking system with Ultrahaptics’ coordinate systems. Please see the SDK documentation for details.

*Please note that the demo suite will only operate with the Leap Motion® camera module.


Can I cover or hide the transducer array?

The Ultrahaptics system relies on generating an acoustic field in space using ultrasound. The array should not be obstructed by solid surfaces or anything that interferes with the interaction space.

The STRATOS Explore Development Kit comes with an additional cover materials kit, containing a selection of splash proof gauzes and perforated steel covers to protect the array.

For TOUCH Development Kit users, you can purchase the cover materials as an add-on through our distributors; Arrow (Worldwide), EBV (Worldwide excl. Japan) and, in Japan, Cornes.

Can I see the effect of Ultrahaptics?

The Ultrahaptics system generates an acoustic field in space using ultrasound to create a mid-air sense of touch. We use graphics and imagery on much of our website and marketing material to help you visualise different applications and concepts. Immersion Research have used Ultrahaptics with Microsoft’s HoloLens to create haptic feedback for holograms and holographic displays.

Ultrahaptics has investigated several ways of demonstrating the effect visually. We’ve found that it can be best seen by disturbing the surface of a shallow bath of oil. You can see three shapes created with Time Point Streaming below.TPS oilbath

What is the minimum number of transducers required to feel a sensation?

The number of transducers required to create a sensation will depend on the specific application. With the existing transducers, the most basic sensations can be felt with approximately 80 transducers. More complex sensations, interaction zone and array form factor arrangements will all affect the minimum number of transducers required. We provide additional NRE services to simulate and design arrays based on your application requirements.

What kind of transducers are used on the Ultrahaptics platforms?

Currently, Ultrahaptics hardware uses 40kHz Murata through-hole mounted, piezo transducers. These are readily available on the market and used in volume in automotive applications as parking sensors and proximity sonar. The size of the transducers is dictated by piezo technology and output power. Ultrahaptics is investing in researching alternative transducer technologies with a view to reducing size and manufacturing cost, while increasing output power and efficiency.

Can the array size be reduced?

The STRATOS Explore Development Kit, TOUCH Development Kit and Evaluation Kit (UHEV1) are of fixed size and should not be broken apart or dismantled. However, your own application’s hardware may require a smaller layout: Array size is dictated by the number of transducers required, which is directly related to the size of the interaction zone and strength of sensation, while the spacing between transducers is dependent on the wavelength of the ultrasound. As a rule of thumb, the smaller the interaction space, the fewer transducers are needed. We offer additional services to simulate and design arrays based on your application requirements.

You can read more about array form factors and interaction zones here.

The surface of my Ultrahaptics array is warm. Is this normal?

Because of the nature of the transducers used by Ultrahaptics and the high output levels required, heat can build up if the array is continuously outputting ultrasound. This is quite normal but you should keep in mind that the array should be well ventilated, particularly if building it into an enclosure.

The STRATOS Explore Development Kit and TOUCH Development Kit are designed to detect thermal build-up and to protect the device from damage will stop emitting if the transducer or logic board surfaces exceed 80C and 65C respectively. The transducer components are qualified for use in automotive applications with operating temperatures between -25C and 85C. The array will begin operating once the temperature has fallen to 5C below these thresholds.