Is it possible to feel the temperature of a virtual object? Thermoesthesia, which i saw at the ars electronica center, is a table that lets visitors feel the different temperatures of a wide array of graphics (from snow flakes to heat waves) through the sense of touch.


The surface of the monitor screen displaying the images is warmed and cooled by 80 Peltier modules. A PC controls the electrical circuits feeding current to the modules. The thermographic displays can read out temperatures ranging from 5° to 45° Celsius.

A photosensoric touch-pad system registers the position of the user’s hand via infrared light diodes and thus enables the visitor to interact with the thermographic images.
Concept by Kumiko Kushiyama.

You can get a rough idea of what it looks like (but not what it “feels” like of course) with the video of Thermoesthesia, found on digg.

My images on flickr.