My little finger feels you are sad

UltraHaptics uses pulsed air to stimulate different areas of the hand to evoke different emotions. A soft structure keeps the hand position steady. Credit: SCHI Lab, University of Sussex

I never knew that our sense of touch can evoke emotion in our brain. Studies show that depending on the way your hand is stimulated by tactile sensations your brain can feel emotions like sadness, happiness, anger, excitement. Well, this is totally new to me!

Not so to a research team at Sussex University that once discovered this relation between touch and emotion has immediately moved onto generating these sensations artificially through haptic stimulation.

They have invented and tested a device that can send whiffs of air to specific parts of your hand, thus stimulating your brain to perceive specific emotions.

A whiff of air hitting your little finger, lingering there a little while and then moving down to the center of your palm makes your brain perceive a sense of sadness. On the contrary a whiff drawing a loop on your palm involving your thumb and index finger generates excitement.

I haven’t tried it but I would surely like to have the opportunity, since seeing, or rather touching in this case, is believing.

The researchers would consider this as a tool to communicate emotions and envisage a time when you will not just see a movie on your television screen but will also get an enriched feeling by being stimulated in the appropriate way. The device so far can reach you at a distance of about 2 meters.

Just a curiosity, probably, but it shows how much we have progressed in learning about ourselves and the potential for meddling through artificial stimulation. And, just to stay on the safe side now that you know, don’t touch your girlfriend little finger but go straight for the thumb…

Author - Roberto Saracco

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