The Magical Wooden Stick: Enchanting the Sense of Touch

Project Members

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

In this installation, a magical wooden stick places its holder under a spell that modifies the feel of objects and images of the environment. It reveals a parallel world in which dynamic textures are hidden in a colorful world of smooth and silent images and shapes. This installation is based on the Revel Technology.

Installation Overview

Installation Overview

The installation consists of multiple artifacts that the visitor can touch, while wandering around holding the magical wooden stick.


Table Overview

While wielding the wooden stick, the user can feel the scales on a smooth painted wooden fish, feel the rough texture of projected sand and the bumpy sensation of pebbles while sliding his finger across the surface of the table. He can experience the tickling sensation of pine needles on a smooth wooden painted tree. He can also experience different tactile sensations when interacting with a see-through bird house that overlays virtual elements on the physical table.

Installation Concept

This installation explores tactile surrealism, in which textures mapped to objects and images are unexpected, incoherent, surprising, and do match with the expected feel of the environment, provoking surprise when touching a painting, a wooden object or a projected image.

Wall Overview

In our installation, the visitors can feel unexpected artificial sensations on different areas of a physical painting, and feel the texture of paper bugs through the glass of a display case without actually touching them.

Technical Details

Revel Hardware

The Revel device is embedded at the bottom of the stick. The user is in contact with the Revel electrodes through a copper-painted trace painted along the stick. For more information, please visit the Revel project page.

Sensing strategies

The visitors hand and finger positions, relative to the artifacts in the installation, are sensed in multiple ways. Visitor tracking on the table is achieved by using a Kinect depth camera that provides the coordinates of the user’s contact points with the table and physical objects. Capacitive sensing is used for display cases and screens.



The Color Textures installation was displayed during one week at the SIGGRAPH 2012 Emerging Technologies exhibition.

Selected Press

BBC Focus Magazine. Touchy-feely technology. October 2012.
MIT Technology Review. Disney Researchers Add Virtual Touch to the Real World. August 9, 2012.
Wired. Electrical fields passed through the body generate virtual textures. August 10, 2012.
Engadget. Disney’s REVEL could turn the whole world into a tactile touchscreen. August 10, 2012.
Gizmodo. Using Electrical Charge to Make the World Feel Different. August 9, 2012.
Creative Applications. Disney Researchers Augment Touch Sensation with REVEL. August 9, 2012

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