Why are only two senses transmittable via technology?

  • Thread starter Algr
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Technology
In summary: I wonder if the phone is calibrating the feedback to my finger size or if I have a dirty screen...)Compared to a mechanical keyboard key in a fixed location,the virtual interface has no constrained location... as well as no gaps for lint and cookie crumbs to enter and mess up the key.The iPhone virtual keyboard has no tactile feedback, no fixed location, and no gaps for lint and cookie crumbs to enter and mess up the key.
  • #1
Algr
867
394
TL;DR Summary
Why are only two of our six senses transmittable via technology?
Our ability to transmit and receive audio and video are quite well refined these days. I would understand transmission of the others being niche. But they are virtually non-existent. What would Youtube for touch or taste be like? I can't even imagine it.
I think there was once a film that used scratch and sniff cards to incorporate smell into the plot. It was a detective story. And I suppose the vibration of game controllers counts as tactile transmission. But that is it.
 
Last edited:
Engineering news on Phys.org
  • #2
The main purposes of media is to tell a story and relate ideas. Sound is most critical and they say one picture is worth a thousand words. People use voice, gestures and body language to communicate with each other.
 
  • #3
Algr said:
And I suppose the vibration of game controllers counts as tactile transmission. But that is it.
tactile display

But I think it comes down to two main factors.
- those two senses provides the majority of immediate, conscious information
- they are the easiest to transmit.
 
  • #4
Even without computers, most of our face-to-face communications with other people use only sight and sound. You don't need to touch or smell the other person to have a conversation.
 
  • Like
Likes russ_watters
  • #5
Emeril Lagasse used to wish for "smell e vision" on his cooking shows.
 
  • #6
If we could tell stories through smell or touch, I think we would.

Animals live in a world where smell dominates. Humans probably don't pay much attention to smell because we can't manipulate them like sound and vision. (I'll count pictures and writing as "manipulating vision" in this case.) You can touch and smell a doll, that is communication in a sense. I wonder what the bandwidth for smell would be? What do Jpeg artifacts smell like?

I also recall someone was developing touch feedback for robotic arms, so that a technician on the ground could control robotic arms in space and do repairs with them. One thing they found was that the "frame rate" for touch was higher then for vision, with several hundred updates per second required for motion to feel smooth. But that was a decade or more ago. Did nothing come of it?
 
  • #7
Does holding a virtual wine tasting event via a Microsoft Teams meeting count?

1658509993352.png

https://snacknation.com/blog/virtual-wine-tasting/
 
  • Like
Likes hutchphd
  • #8
Algr said:
If we could tell stories through smell or touch, I think we would.
Touching can lead to prosecution. :wink:
 
  • #10
I claim that I could build a machine to remotely convey any of the 5 senses. But, except for audio and video, you wouldn't want to use it because it would be an awful representation of the real world.

So, I question your premise. Like many things in Engineering and Consumer Products, it's really more about what you want/need, how well does it work, and what does it cost.

This subject would be better approached by focusing on each requirement. You'll get different answers from different people for each of the different senses.
 
  • Like
Likes phinds
  • #12
anorlunda said:
You don't need to touch or smell the other person to have a conversation.
Sometimes that's more fun though. Lol
 
  • #13
anorlunda said:
Touching can lead to prosecution.
Yes. And what a sad society this is turning into.
 
  • Like
Likes gmax137
  • #14
sophiecentaur said:
Yes. And what a sad society this is turning into.
Gasp! He touched a photo of me!
 
  • #15
Algr said:
Gasp! He touched a photo of me!
For God's sake man, can't you be quiet? You'll be giving Them ideas, y'know.
 
  • #17
I tried a haptic device like this about 30 years ago






 
  • Like
Likes Algr
  • #18
Oh yes, that is what I mean. It frustrates me that all the new phones want to be featureless slabs with no tactile feedback. Something as simple as feeling the click of a button can be very important to helping a user understand what is going on.
 
  • #19
Algr said:
Oh yes, that is what I mean. It frustrates me that all the new phones want to be featureless slabs with no tactile feedback. Something as simple as feeling the click of a button can be very important to helping a user understand what is going on.
On my iPhone, if I push down hard enough on the screen, I get some haptic feedback that I triggered something... a virtual click (which probably can be programmed to vibrate differently if desired).

Compared to a mechanical keyboard key in a fixed location,
the virtual interface has no constrained location... as well as no gaps for lint and cookie crumbs to enter and mess up the key.

(It seems I don't get haptic feedback if I slowly move across the phone screen
to tell me that I have moved past a virtual button... but I don't see a reason why
they couldn't do that if they wanted to.)
 
  • #20
robphy said:
On my iPhone, if I push down hard enough on the screen, I get some haptic feedback that I triggered something
If you crack the screen, does that count as haptic feedback? :nb)
 
  • Haha
Likes DaveE
  • #21
anorlunda said:
If you crack the screen, does that count as haptic feedback? :nb)
Yes.
And then the phone is no longer a featureless slab.
 
  • #22
With my old iPod, I could do all sorts of useful things without even taking the device out of my pocket. The click wheel was quite a revolution in design. People like tactile feedback, even when it doesn't actually do anything:

FidgetSpinner-1402661824.jpg
 
  • #23
robphy said:
On my iPhone, if I push down hard enough on the screen, I get some haptic feedback that I triggered something... a virtual click (which probably can be programmed to vibrate differently if desired).
Virtual clicks are far less useful than physical ones. For one thing, you can't use them to feel the positions of multiple buttons. Haptic feedback also can fail when needed most, such as when the CPU is taxed and responding slowly. I've felt a phone that took a good quarter second to "click" when I pressed a button. This had the result of making me think I needed to pound my fingers very hard to get the phone to register a click.
 
  • #24
Algr said:
For one thing, you can't use them to feel the positions of multiple buttons.
I think it's possible to add small bumps to the screen with some transparent rubber glue.
At the side or at the bottom it won't affect the readability much.
 
  • #25
Sight and sound are the only two senses generated by modifying a single parameter - the frequency of the vibration/light.

The other senses are much more complicated to describe/reproduce inputs for.
 
  • Like
Likes symbolipoint
  • #26
Bzzzt!

Video has six parameters. One of time, two of space, and three channels of color. (RGB or HSV). Taste has five, the others aren't so well understood. (At least by me.)
 
  • #27
Has anyone catagorized smell in a systematic way?
 
  • Like
Likes symbolipoint
  • #28
  • #29
Algr said:
Bzzzt!

Video has six parameters. One of time, two of space, and three channels of color. (RGB or HSV). Taste has five, the others aren't so well understood. (At least by me.)
Time is a "parameter" for all senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell can all vary over time. Every sense is gifted (or burdened) with poor persistence -- we sense changes better than we sense constant values.

One should probably be careful to decide for each of these "parameters" whether it is a dimension of the space in which the sensors are arrayed or a dimension in the space of sensations each sensor can detect. [It is a sort of vector field -- a vector-valued function taking a vector as input]

For color you have three dimensions in the space in which the sensors live (time, latitude on the retina and longitude on the retina) and three dimensions in the space in which the sensory readings live (red, green, blue or other mapping).

There is arguably an extra two-valued dimension of the space in which the visual sensors live. You have two eyes. This is, of course, post-processed and factored into depth perception.

Or, perhaps, you could call that five dimensions in the space in which the sensors are arrayed (time, latitude, longitude, which eye, which color ) and one dimension for the space in which the readings live (intensity).For sound you have two dimensions in the space in which the sensors live (time and distance in the cochlea). Each sensor has a single dimension for its output (intensity).

Again, there is an extra two-valued dimension in the space in which the auditory sensors live. You have two ears. This is, of course, coordinated with time, post-processed and factored into direction detection.

When we transmit visual images, we typically eliminate the "which eye" dimension, except for stereoopticons and 3-D movies. We sometimes eliminate the "which color" dimension and use black and white. We often eliminate the "when" dimension and transmit still photographs. Or preserve it and transmit videos.

When we transmit sound, we sometimes eliminate the "which ear" dimension and broadcast single channel audio. Sometimes we preserve it and broadcast two channel stereo. On occasion, we dramatically compress the dimensions to a small finite set, the values to an even smaller range and transmit something called "sheet music" instead of audio recordings.

Even more commonly, we do some extreme post-processing called "language" and write down "words".

Edit: Note that there is a word and a Wiki page devoted the possibility of transmitting touch sensation between remote consenting adults. Some commercial products are available.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes russ_watters and robphy
  • #30
jbriggs444 said:
Time is a "parameter" for all senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch and smell can all vary over time. Every sense is gifted (or burdened) with poor persistence -- we sense changes better than we sense constant values.
Mostly true. The senses of Sound, vision, and touch measure time fast enough that changes in time can become part of the visual identity. If you have a lamp that flashes 30 times a second, you would not be aware of each individual flash - instead, flicker would be part of the visual characteristic. Vibrations are like this for touch, and fast vibrations may or may not morph into sounds, depending on how they are presented. A 10 hz square wave played through a large speaker would be clearly audible - a sine wave probably would not be. But both would be detectable by touch, and neither understood as individual events.

There is no equivalent of this for taste and smell. Changes in these are described as conscious awareness of change over time. It's still one dimension of time, but how such things are encoded for transmission might be different.

jbriggs444 said:
For color you have three dimensions in the space in which the sensors live (time, latitude on the retina and longitude on the retina) and three dimensions in the space in which the sensory readings live (red, green, blue or other mapping).
Yes, this is roughly equivalent to what I wrote. Dealing with two eyes, two ears, two hands, can add extra dimensions, but for simplicity I stuck to the mono version of each sense.
jbriggs444 said:
Even more commonly, we do some extreme post-processing called "language" and write down "words".
Now that is a stretch.
 
  • #31
Algr said:
Now that is a stretch.
Yes, but not beyond the point of recognition. Audio transcripts are a thing.
 
  • #33
It's a stretch because language is not synonymous with sound. It can be vision or even touch. Of course that dovetails back to the original topic. A braille-pin touchscreen is transmitting touch as technology. But it requires a lot of training to use. I wonder if you could make a video game controller where the button could communicate a braille letter indicating what tool that button activates at the moment.


Linguistically, is that last sentence a question or a statement? Should I have ended it with a question mark?
 
  • #34
Algr said:
I wonder if you could make a video game controller where the button could communicate a braille letter indicating what tool that button activates at the moment.


Linguistically, is that last sentence a question or a statement? Should I have ended it with a question mark?
A statement. :wink: You were stating that you wonder something.
No question mark. People get that wrong all the time.
 
  • Like
Likes Algr and jbriggs444
  • #35
Smell land taste are pretty invasive senses - they actually require direct chemical interaction.

One can look away from a sight, or turn off a sound - and once gone they're gone. But it's very difficult to turn off a taste or smell once you've started to experience it. It takes time to fade.

You can imagine all sorts of mischief to be had if some complete stranger could put chemicals on your tongue or in your nose - not to mention unsanitary or hazardous.

We're just not ready for that kind of immersion.
 

Similar threads

Replies
10
Views
2K
Replies
109
Views
54K
Back
Top