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Last Updated:  Friday, 4 April, 2003, 09:56 GMT 10:56 UK
Touch TV moves closer
Dr Sile O'Modhrain shows off the hardware
'Butt kicker' allows couch potatoes to take part in the action
New technology that allows you to feel the action as it unfolds on TV has been developed.

Working at the European Media Lab in Dublin, researchers have found a way for couch potatoes to take part in sport on TV.

Principle Research Scientist Dr Sile O'Modhrain leads the Palpable Machine Group at the research institute, and her interest is in the interaction between humans and computers.

Interfaces that break down the barriers between man and machine can be fun but also provide closer involvement for those that are blind or partially sighted.

Butt kicker
Remote control used in Touch TV design
The remote control allows you to feel the action

"You can be in your home and feel elements of the broadcast, for example when you are sitting on the couch watching sports," she told the BBC's Go Digital programme.

The team at the media labs have taken off-the-shelf hardware designed for game controllers and built it into a TV remote.

Pressing your hand over a circle in the centre of the controller will allow a person to feel the ball as it is kicked in a football match.

Another design has embedded the hardware into the couch itself and linked it to an object such as a football.

Every time the ball is thrown or kicked a radio transmitter sends information to the chair to provide the person sitting down with an effect such as a kick in the back.

The hardware co-opted to build the interactive couch is called the 'butt kicker'.

Down the line there is no reason why such technology cannot be incorporated into live broadcasts.

"Just as it is possible to have time code to link sound and visual effects it is also possible to link touch effects," said Dr O'Modhrain.

"This would be picked up with the signal from the camera and the microphone and all together would form part of the programme that is sent to your TV," she said.

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