Haptic feedback is widely considered the next stage of human-device interaction. The latest projection from Smart Haptics values the market at almost $20 billion by 2022 as relentless hardware innovation is required to satisfy ever increasing market demands for next generation consumer electronics.
A major design trend within the smartphone industry is expected to be the replacement of physical buttons with virtual controls, evidenced by recent unveils from Huawei, Vivo and Xiaomi. These devices feature new waterfall-type OLED displays which spill over device sides. The market appears to be transitioning away from mechanical buttons which interrupt these new displays, with vendors removing any protrusions or visible gaps.
CML’s haptic actuator technology, which is available to license, allows these design trends to be accommodated whilst providing state-of-the-art immersive feedback. Current sensations generated by actuators in conjunction with virtual controls are not localised. The whole device shakes using conventional Linear Resonant Actuator (LRA) and Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM) actuators. These solutions compromise the natural sensation of a button click at the fingertip consumers are accustomed to.
CML’s haptic actuator fits underneath device surfaces and transmits force waves through a thick seamless structure to provide a realistic tactile sensation at the exact position of interaction. CML’s current virtual button demonstrator deflects casework by around 65µm with a drive voltage of only 5V. With CML’s proprietary firmware residing on driver electronics the waveform can be selected, tuned and altered to match consumer preference. It can also be varied in real time, providing continuously variable sensations.
CML’s haptic actuator can be used in combination with various sensor technologies, such as capacitive or force sensing, to detect the user’s touch. The miniature design of the haptic actuator, at around 60mm3, is equivalent to that allocated to incumbent tact switches allowing a straightforward replacement.
This technology opens up new exciting applications, particularly in the gaming industry. Smartphone vendors are now marketing dedicated gaming handsets, with the mobile gaming market in Asia alone valued at $44 billion in 2018. Customisable tactile feedback can augment the smartphone gaming experience as users receive unique sensations related to specific actions carried out in gameplay.
Dr Marc Scholz is scheduled to discuss CML’s haptic technology on 5th December. In addition to his presentation, a demonstrator will be available at CML’s conference stand.
CML will be holding meetings throughout the conference. Please get in contact if you are also attending and would like to schedule a discussion.