Immersion has introduced its TouchSense technology which will provide touch feedback for touchscreens to imitate the feeling of pushing real buttons. TouchSense technology supplies tactile cues, noticeably absent in current touchscreens, providing a more intuitive, personal, and natural experience.
Instead of just feeling the hard, unresponsive touchscreen surface, users perceive that buttons depress and release, just as physical buttons and switches do. This realistic and engaging response restores the rich tactile information conveyed through physical controls, such as when clicking a computer mouse, pushing a button, or depressing a membrane switch. System designers can synchronize TouchSense tactile sensations with sound and on-screen graphical images for an even more powerful user experience.
Immersion first implemented its TouchSense force feedback technology in 1996 in gaming system peripherals. Since that time, it has been incorporated into numerous computer and video console systems; medical simulation systems; rotary controls in cars from BMW, Rolls Royce, and Volkswagen; and mobile phones from Samsung. TouchSense technology for touchscreens is the latest implementation.
Many touchscreen applications can be improved or expanded with TouchSense technology. For example, menu items programmed to supply a pulse sensation or a confirming push-back response may help machine operators improve efficiency. Buttons such as Enter, Next, and other major and minor functions can supply a distinct and consistent feel throughout a kiosk application to assist consumers. And on-screen automotive controls can exhibit increasing or decreasing vibrations corresponding to fan speed, radio volume, or light level to help reduce glance time.
"TouchSense technology allows the user's sense of touch to join sight and sound for a more multisensory and engaging experience, one that can enhance performance, productivity, safety, or fun," said Dean Chang, Immersion CTO. "Touchscreen manufacturers and integrators can use this vibro-tactile, or haptic, technology to provide a more satisfying user experience for applications from automotive and industrial controls to point of sale, kiosk, and gaming."
How It Works
TouchSense technology for touchscreens involves actuators, controllers, haptic effect authoring software, and application programming interfaces (APIs) that let designers focus on haptic effect creation rather than on the mechanics of programming. When a user touches the screen, an analog signal is sent to the touchscreen controller, which supplies information on the precise screen location where contact was made. This location information is sent to the host application, which commands Immersion's haptic controller to play a specific vibro-tactile effect corresponding to the user's selection.
A key feature of TouchSense technology is that its haptic effects can vary in frequency, waveform, magnitude, and duration. The result is that all sorts of on-screen buttons, switches, and other controls can supply distinct sensations to allow greater discrimination for users and more extensive applicability for OEMs and developers. In addition, TouchSense technology can be used with all types and sizes of touchscreens, including capacitive, infrared, resistive, and surface acoustic wave, without affecting optic clarity.
Immersion will begin selling demonstration touch monitors integrated with TouchSense technology, which will be suitable for testing design concepts, in June. Development kits for integration of the technology by OEMs or system integrators are expected to be available in Q3 2005. Immersion also offers design assistance and customized services.