Disney showed off a new gizmo it hopes to soon be using for theme park attractions – it’s akin to the in-theater effects used in the 3D/4D films seen at Epcot and Hollywood Studios – called the Tactile Brush.
Ok, so maybe it’s not the most impressive looking thing.. kind of like a cheap IKEA chair with an old PC tower and a back-massager, but it’s actually a nice bit of technology. It was created by Ali Israr and Ivan Poupyrev at Disney Research, Pittsburgh (now all those job postings for science/tech research for Disney around the globe make sense!) Here’s a PDF from them explaining exactly what the thing is. The device was formally unveiled at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Vancouver recently.
The long-story-short is that our bodies react to multiple pieces of sensory input, combine and decode the various inputs, and thus perceive motion.. and subsequently can be fooled by being given the right stimulus sequences. In terms of this chair and the Tactile Brush, it’s a series of motors that can be activated in complex patterns to simulate various movements and atmospheric events. Like these: