Shopping with feeling

 作者:洪痉     |      日期:2019-03-08 08:12:00
By Catherine Zandonella in San Francisco THE trouble with shopping on the Internet is that you can’t touch anything. Fortunately, that may be about to change with a motorised computer mouse that can give Web surfers the sensation of texture—or other physical attributes—of items pictured on the Net. Visitors to last week’s Web99 convention in San Francisco were able to test out the `Feel It’ mouse: running the cursor over a picture of a tennis racket let a user feel the tautness of the strings. You could also feel the texture of a pair of corduroy jeans or test-drive a car, feeling how it handles the curves and accelerates on the straight. And the mouse even simulates an attempt to move through a heavy wind. Until now, the technology to create such a mouse was only available in consoles and joysticks for computer games. Originally developed by Stanford University and NASA, force-feedback technology was first used for flight simulation. Recently, Immersion Corporation in San Jose, California, managed to achieve the fast data exchange rates needed to provide realistic tactile sensations when someone is shopping on the Web. The mouse is attached to a pad which contains two motors in a small housing at the top, one to move the mouse right to left, and the other to move it up and down. As you move your cursor over an image on a Web page, embedded motion commands are sent to a microprocessor in the mouse, telling it how to move to produce the desired sensation. Internet shopping sprees aside, one of the best applications for this technology is in schools, says Robert Tinker, a physicist who runs a nonprofit-making company dedicated to using emerging technologies in education. Tinker plans to use the force-feedback mouse to teach children about the forces of nature, especially the atomic level forces they cannot see. “With this technology, kids can feel their way around a molecule,” says Tinker. The $99 mouse goes on sale in the US in the autumn. For the technology to proliferate, Web designers need only download free software from www.FEELtheWEB.com to embed the relevant Feel It commands in images,