BBC reveal ‘feel the weather’ prototype

1 min read

The BBC has created an experimental device, using haptic technology, where users can ‘feel’ the weather forecast.

Using technology developed by Ultraleap, the device uses ultrasound waves to simulate different weather conditions, ranging from the feeling of rain or snow, to the glow of sunshine.

The ultrasound waves were combined with hand tracking technology and animated images. The former detected when a person had their hand under the device and its exact position as it moved it around. The latter involved 3D animated images of BBC weather forecast symbols, such as the sun shining or rain falling, to make the experience more immersive.

Whilst this internal prototype might not be something that can be delivered to all homes as a new way to experience BBC content, the team anticipate that touch sensations could be delivered by using existing devices, such as remote controls or the mobile phones.

Cyrus Saihan, Head of Digital Partnerships, BBC, explained in a blog post that haptic touch technology could have even wider reaching uses in the future. He said, “For sporting events, imagine being able to feel the power behind a tennis serve at Wimbledon, the sensation of a football being kicked in the FA Cup final, or the impact that a competitor feels when being hit in an Olympics Taekwondo fight.

"The technology could also be used in nature documentaries, perhaps to help give you a feeling of what it might be like to brush up against the leaves in a rainforest or feel an exotic animal whilst you see it on screen in high definition.”

He added that another potential benefit is the ability to improve accessibility for those with visual or hearing impairments. He said, “Being able to feel the weather forecast or other content and experiences via touch could potentially open up a useful and powerful way for them to access important information.”