Researchers at the university of Tokyo are experimenting with tactile--touchable
--holograms, and they've incorporated Wii remotes
. The setup uses a concave mirrir to project a 3D hologram of an image on a screen, a high tech version of those little novelty holograms you can get at hobby shops. This mirror is combined with an ultrasound pulse generator that focuses sound waves "around" the holographic image, simulated the experience of touching or holding the object. The humbe Wii remotes are used for hand tracking.
The video game angle is a little shallow here, but what if this kind of interface were implemented two or three console generations down the road? Sure the tech is in its infancy, but it's still amazing what they've pulled off and as the tech gets better they'll be able to track the movements more accurately and even improve the tactile resolution, maybe even convey texture to a completely virtual surface. I can imagine this would work well for manipulated objects in a game world, such as examining items, puzzles or weapons. It's certainly more practical than bolting a clunky expensive haptic rig to your console. If the grant money keeps coming it won't be long before we're trapped on the holodeck, its safety modes disabled, being chased by Klingons and gangsters out of a Dixon Hill novel. Pretty exciting stuff.