Revel: Programming the Sense of Touch

Project Members

Olivier Bau (Disney Research Pittsburgh)
Ivan Poupyrev (Disney Research Pittsburgh)
Matthieu Le Goc (Disney Research Pittsburgh)
Laureline Galliot (Disney Research Pittsburgh)
Matt Glisson (Disney Research Pittsburgh)

REVEL is a new wearable tactile technology that modifies the user’s tactile perception of the physical world. Current tactile technologies enhance objects and devices with various actuators to create rich tactile sensations, limiting the experience to the interaction with instrumented devices. In contrast, REVEL can add artificial tactile sensations to almost any surface or object, with very little if any instrumentation of the environment. As a result, REVEL can provide dynamic tactile sensations on touch screens as well as everyday objects and surfaces in the environment, such as furniture, walls, wooden and plastic objects, and even human skin.

REVEL is based on Reverse Electrovibration. It injects a weak electrical signal into anywhere on the user’s body, creating an oscillating electrical field around the user’s skin. When sliding his or her fingers on a surface of the object, the user perceives highly distinctive tactile textures that augment the physical object. Varying the properties of the signal, such as the shape, amplitude and frequency, can provide a wide range of tactile sensations.


REVEL is a new wearable tactile technology that modifies the user’s tactile perception of the physical world. As a result, it can provide a layer of artificial tactile texture on almost any surface or object, including touch-screens, walls, furniture, plastic or wooden objects, and even human skin. Revel requires little, if any, instrumentation of the physical world.

The REVEL hardware consists in a small arbitrary signal generator. The board is powered by a 3.7V battery and equipped with on-board Bluetooth for wireless communication.

REVEL can provide artificial tactile sensations on almost any surface, including paintings.

REVEL can provide a layer of controllable tactile textures on wide range of objects.

REVEL can provide tactile sensations to projections on almost any surface of the environment, including walls and tables.

REVEL is based on Reverse Electrovibration. It injects an imperceptible electrical signal into the user’s body that creates an electrostatic field around the skin. When touching a physical object covered with an electrode and insulator, the electrostatic force modulates the friction between the sliding finger and the object. Both REVEL and the objects share common ground.

REVEL generates arbitrary signals that can be applied anywhere on the user’s body. For example, the REVEL device can be embedded in a chair, cane, shoe or the casing of a touch-screen.

REVEL can augment large touch-surfaces with tactile feedback.

REVEL can augment interactive display cases with textures related to their contents.


REVEL: Tactile Feedback Technology for Augmented Reality
January 1, 2012
ACM Transaction on Graphics – Proc. of SIGGRAPH’12. 2012
Paper File [pdf, 11.48 MB]

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