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End user purchases a special "texture glove", similar to what they have for virtual reality.
Think of those interesting toys with the pins. Now, think of similar-looking pins embedded into the glove.
The only difference between the glove and the toy is that the pins embedded in the glove
work in unison to create a texture.
The webmaster for an online store is updating the site with some new spring fashions. She uses the normal code for images, but combines it with Texture Markup Language, so the end user can actually touch the same material that the article of clothing is made out of.
<img src=spring_skirt.jpg alt=spring skirt>
Code w/ TML:
<img src=spring_skirt.jpg alt=spring skirt texture=001457>
The 001457 corresponds with a certain texture. Each 6-digit code would go with a different one. (Like a "hex code" that you use when you want a specific color.)
It all comes together when the user goes to the catalog site, the glove (possibly connected to USB port) senses the TML, and the smart shopper can touch a recreation of the fabric.
Google search for "tactile feedback"
What this area of research is usually called. [jutta, Mar 13 2002]
Sometimes also "haptic feedback"
[jutta, Mar 13 2002]
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||No guarantee that what you feel is what you get. I think simply describing the fabric is enough.
||It's an interesting concept, but I'd have to have a lot of use for such a thing before I went out and bought the glove. Now if someone were *giving* the glove away (like the :CueCat or cell phones)...
||This is called "tactile feedback" (see link) and an area of ongoing research. As you can tell if you've played with the nail toy you mention in your idea, there's quite a ways to go, but some of the approaches tried aren't so far from what you describe.
||The superficial external resemblance between the VR gloves and a tactile feedback device is one of my pet peeves.
||I have a guppy named "Peeves"
||I'm still stuck at the 'interesting toys with the pins'. Is this a US thing, or am I too old / young / deprived?