Imagine studying to be a surgeon, and using a computer simulation that can accurately convey the sensation of cutting into flesh or applying pressure to human organs.

The field of haptics, which refers to devices that can convey this sense of touch, took a big step forward March 4 when researchers at Carnegie Mellon University demonstrated a controller that allows computer users to manipulate three-dimensional images and explore virtual environments not only through sight and sound, but also by using their sense of touch.

The controller, which is expected to...

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