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Once More With Feeling... Immersion

Techstination feature for Monday, June 4, 2001

Mice that let you feel what you see on screen. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. It's turning up in more and more computer pointing devices from leaders like Logitech and Kensington. Technology that gives you tactile sensations related to what you see on screen. What's the point? Bruce Schena is the chief technology officer at the Immersion Corporation... .

"If you go to a travel page and you're trying to pick from a list of days of the week or months of the year, as you scroll down that list of items, you'll feel a distinct tactile sensation, a detent almost indicating that you're on top of the target. So, this technology helps the user target in the interface."

It takes the guesswork out of whether you're where you need to be when you click. Not what I'd call absolutely necessary... but a nice touch, so to speak. Immersion licenses its technology for a variety of force feedback gaming peripherals as well... and as of this fall... you'll also find it in a controller called the iDrive in the BMW 7000 series. And in the medical arena... it enables surgeons to learn how to use new instruments on digital patients...

"They learn how to do the procedure, they're able to practice it." And it feels like they're doing the real procedure? "That's absolutely an important part of this, that there's the tactile component of doing that procedure."

The technology could eventually allow doctors to practice difficult tasks on digitized versions of individual patients... . before attempting the real thing. Bloomberg Bootcamp, I'm Fred Fishkin.