When I first explored the idea of haptic communication I came across Scott Brave's work at MIT Tangible Media Lab with a project called "InTouch" that he documented in 1998 under the guidance of Dr. Hiroshi Ishii. This project had rolling cylinders that two people could manipulate at the same time.
More recently, I came across the work of Daniel Leithinger and Sean Follmer and their projects with Dr. Ishii as well. It appears that the technology exists for a device like one that I describe, but the one that they developed is horizontally oriented as opposed to the vertical one I am proposing.
I am looking for collaborators as I am not technically able to build a prototype, but am willing to share my ideas and work towards raising funding for this project.