Do you remember when Obi-Wan Kenobi taught Luke Skywalker to use The Force to deflect training droids with his light saber when they were on their way to Alderaann aboard the Millennium Falcon? When Luke failed at first, Obi-wan had him put on a helmet that blocked his vision. Well, it could be The Force was giving Luke a form of haptic feedback. Haptic feedback is based on the sense of touch. Somehow Luke was able to perceive objects rushing at him, but back here on earth, we normally have to come into physical contact with an object to get a haptic response to its presence. The ability to detect stationary and even slowly moving objects without having contact with them could be of great benefit to people who are blind or in extremely low light environments.
Chaotic Moon, an Austin, TX design and development group, is working on Project Sentiri, formerly called Project Halo. Project Sentiri uses a headband with infared sensors that give 360 degree feedback about objects in the form of vibrations. The closer the wearer is to an object, the stronger the vibration. While there is no set release date for Project Sentiri, Chaotic Moon continues to test and refine the technology. With the ability to vary the vibrations in other modes than just strength, for example varying the vibration frequency speed or style, more complex messages could be conveyed. If you think of the feedback received by the Project Sentiri headband as a form of Morse code, for example, it’s conceivable communication applications could deliver complex messages beyond barriers or things to bump into.
While it’s easy to imagine how a Project Sentiri powered headset combined with GPS directions could help someone with limited vision move around a strange city or room. Other applications that come to mind include driving, racing, sports, hands and eyes free object handling, and of course military and law enforcement tasks where being able to receive silent signals while operational could be a significant advantage.