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New Scientist Live | The day Ultrahaptics felt the force

Heather Macdonald Tait talks about how adding mid-air haptics to a lightsabre made feeling the Force from Star Wars a reality for young visitors to New Scientist Live.

Ultrahaptics were thrilled to be invited by the Royal Academy of Engineering to participate in a special exhibition of engineering inspired by Star Wars when New Scientist Live returned to London this September.

New Scientist Live Star Wars digital signage


We developed a unique haptic experience for the event, by passing their hand over an array of ultrasonic speakers, users interacted with a poster of Rey wielding her lightsabre.

“Wow, I can actually feel it!” one eight-year-old exclaimed, while her father said he’d “never felt anything like it”.

Watch Ultrahaptics in action at New Scientist Live

The sensations they were experiencing were created using focused ultrasound waves. The sound waves are too high-frequency for humans to be able to hear, but their vibrations can still be felt.


Ultrahaptics’ patented algorithms are able to control ultrasound waves to create different shapes and sensations in mid-air. The ‘Force’ was actually an acoustic field with areas of high pressure simulating ‘magic sparkles’, a sensation developed by Ultrahaptics that feels like painless sparks bouncing off the skin.

Ultrahaptics were joined by other academic and commercial exhibitors on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s stand, which showed other engineering innovations including levitation using ultrasound, VR, robotic droids and mind-controlled prosthetics.

It was fantastic to be part of such an engaging event, reaching out to a wide audience and inspiring young minds. This demonstration of bringing haptics to a poster is the tip of the iceberg in relation to what Ultrahaptics can bring to digital signage. I’m so excited to see what is to come!

Heather Macdonald Tait is a specialist in technology marketing and was Ultrahaptics’ employee #5. She is passionate about engaging children in STEM subjects and increasing diversity in the tech industry.

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