Bristol-based Ultrahaptics has launched an Academic Program to support research groups around the world in exploring and developing haptic interfaces and experiences using focused ultrasound.

“This represents the team’s commitment to explore the full potential of what haptics can bring to how we interact.”


It is already working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US as well as Tokyo University in Japan and Sussex University in the UK.

Ultrahaptics has developed an innovative technology that creates the sense of touch in mid-air, through the use of modulated ultrasound. Users are able to feel virtual objects, shapes, switches and buttons. Uses for the technology are being realised in automotive applications, VR, AR and industrial controls.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

“The launch of this program represents our commitment to developing new, novel, use cases for our technology at the forefront of haptics research,” says Tom Carter, founder and Chief Technical Officer (pictured right). “There is an incredible volume and quality of work going on in haptics in labs around the world right now, and I certainly subscribe to the ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ metaphor: we are keen to enable, build and develop upon a bank of knowledge already out there.”

He adds: “The Academic Program represents the team’s commitment to work collaboratively with these organisations to explore the full potential of what haptics can bring to how we interact.”

The program is being run by Orestis Georgiou: “It’s great to be working with such diverse research teams and Universities around the world committed to furthering insight into haptics and ultrasound technology. I am excited about this opportunity to accelerate investments into R&D and create a vibrant community of experts collaborating, sharing insights and driving innovation in this space.”

No need for wearables

MIT has been using the Ultrahaptics technology in a new undergraduate course (above) that helps students blend virtual and physical realities, interacting with data and virtual objects in new immersive ways. The course is based on the idea of a room that could render data so realistically that it would allow users to interact with information as if it were a real, physical object.

“A sense of touch is fundamental to how humans interact with, and experience, the physical world. However, current virtual and augmented reality applications still lack intuitive tactile feedback, which significantly impacts user experience and the sense of presence,” says Robin Alter, VP of Strategic Partnerships for Ultrahaptics. “[Our] technology recreates the sense of touch in mid-air, enabling users to reach out and interact naturally, unencumbered by wearables and controllers.”

Researchers at Sussex created a ‘9D TV‘ that included stimulation via sight, hearing, taste, smell and, using Ultrahaptics technology, touch.

You can see a video animation of how the Ultrahaptics technology works at . You can keep up-to-date with company developments at, or on Twitter here: @ultrahaptics.

Nick Flaherty