Sonar Glove May Allow People to 'See' Underwater With Their Hands

PHOTO: Researchers say this glove - shown here in a photo from its website - uses a combination of sonar technology and water jets that can help users find objects underwater. www.aisencaro.com/iruka.html
Researchers say this glove - shown here in a photo from its website - uses a combination of sonar technology and water jets that can help users find objects underwater.

Forget goggles. Researchers are working on a device that would allow users to "see" with their hands thanks to sonar technology.

Called an IrukaTact, the device was inspired by dolphin sonar and uses tiny jets to let a user know when they are close to the object. Iruka means dolphin in Japanese.

The device was created at Tsukuba University in Japan by PhD candidates Aisen Caro Chacin and Takeshi Oozu.

The information retrieved by the sonar technology is then transmitted to the user with tiny jets, according to the researchers. The closer a person is to an object the more water pressure they feel, possibly allowing them to find objects even in murky conditions.

"It extends the sense of touch to feel the topography of a sunken floor," Chacin wrote online about the device. "[It's] in parallel to the wearer’s hand in order to perceive objects under cloudy waters where sight is no longer useful."

Chacin said the device might able to help during underwater search and recovery missions. She and Oozu developed the project after presenting an early design at the Ars Electronica Festival for Art and Electronics in September of this year.