When someone describes something as being a gauntlet it’s rare that you’ll find they’re describing something uncool. Gauntlets are armour, associated with knights, the weapons from Assassin’s Creed, and the channeling of Will in the Fable universe. Now, thanks to researchers at the University of Bristol’s Bristol Interaction Group gauntlets have yet another cool association: levitation.
They’ve called their invention GauntLev and it uses acoustic levitation – a method of lifting objects using intense sound waves – to manipulate materials without having to touch them. You can see the gauntlet in action below where the team show that they’re able to successfully pick up, move, transfer and combine materials using the technology:
The gauntlet allows the movement of objects over the palm of the hand or between fingers when they’re held in an open pinching position. They’ve also come up with a concept that they’re calling a sonic screwdriver which allows for the same manipulation of objects with less involvement from the hands, providing a larger surface area which would perhaps be better for moving larger objects, or maybe even multiple objects simultaneously. GauntLev can be used manually but the researchers have also developed a means of computer assistance which allows for greater stability, accuracy, and speed.
The researchers say that a tool like this would enable scientists to hold dangerous or fragile materials without actually having to touch them and acoustic levitation is the perfect technology for this since it can trap particles in air or water. So far the prototypes do work but still have limited forces meaning the things they can actually lift are really quite small. However the team say that the working prototypes “symbolize a milestone in our expectations of future technology.” We agree. We also think that if at least one of them hasn’t made a “wingardium leviosa” joke they’ve missed out big time.