What if objects around us could absorb information? What if they were interactive? And how could they communicate with the user?

REVEL imagines superimposing a layer of virtual tactile textures onto objects and environments. This gives the ability to control what the user feels when they slide their fingers over different surfaces. Walls, furniture, and plastic or wooden objects, even human skin, can be augmented with artificial tactile sensations.

A weak imperceptible electrical signal is injected on the user’s body, creating an oscillating electrical field around their fingers. Objects are coated with conductive and dielectric layers so that when fingers slide across them, they become electrostatically attracted to each other and produce the sensation of a surface texture. By varying shape, amplitude, and frequency of the electrical signal REVEL distinctive tactile textures.

Importantly, the objects themselves require no instrumentation or electrical power. Instead, the REVEL device is worn by the user, altering their tactile perception of the physical world. With minimal instrumentation, artificial tactile sensations can be added to almost any surface or object.


Bau, O., Poupyrev, I. REVEL: tactile feedback technology for augmented reality. In Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH 2012,
Article 89, 11p. [PDF]

Team and Credits

The REVEL technology was developed in Disney Research Pittsburgh by Olivier Bau and myself, in collaboration with Mathieu Le Goc.

Laureline Galliot and Matthew Glisson joined us for the design and production of the SIGGRAPH 2012 Emerging Technologies Installation.


100 Outstanding Innovations 2013 by NetExplo / UNESCO.

Winner, Entertainment Category World Technology Awards 2012.