Researchers Develop Force Feedback Technology for Smartphones

The Force, as George Lucas taught us, is not something to be wielded lightly, but thanks to the wonders of science and technology, it is something you might soon be able to harness. Well, sort of. There doesn't yet exist a technology that would allow non-Jedis to move large objects and choke out their enemies without physical interaction, but there is a team of researchers working on developing force feedback for smartphones.

Pedro Lopes and colleagues at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany, developed a feedback system that uses electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to mimic signals that the central nervous system sends to activate muscle groups, NewScientist reports. It's similar to the technology physical therapists use to help wake up muscles in people suffering from paralysis.

Force Feedback

What Lopes and company have done is a build a system that creates a strong, painless contraction that makes the user tilt his or her smartphone. The idea is to make the user "fight" the contraction "so they feel they are fighting a force," Lopes says.

Mobile gaming is the obvious application for something like this, and during a limited test run with 10 people, the researchers had the subjects play a custom game in which they had to control an aircraft and fight against strong winds. Compared to traditional rumble feedback, all 10 test subjects preferred force feedback.

Brings a whole new meaning to "Use the Force!"