Touch Screens That Touch Back

Remember the simple joys of haptic feedback? Novasentis does.

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While CES is primarily a time for companies to show off the latest in consumer-targeted products, the event is also a showcase for basic technologies that will filter their way into end-user products in the near future. One of these companies, Novasentis, is looking to give back to consumers what is being lost in the race for the slimmest sleekest device: true haptic feedback.

Touchscreens are fine for input, but are no match for physical keyboards in input speed and accuracy.

A great deal of technology boils down to the give and take of input and feedback; we turn a key and the lock clicks to let us know that the door is secured. We tend to respond well to physical feedback and we have carried through this input-feedback pattern throughout technology; that is until the advent of touch screens. Now our input consists of merely touching the screen and receiving a reponse in the form of device vibration.

While this quasi-force feedback is enough for some, the tactile sensation of displacing a button and hearing it click is what is stopping some die-hards from from migrating to full touch screen technology.

The actuator that might change the haptic feedback game.

In order to improve haptic feedback, Novasentis is teaming up with Texas instruments to bring its Clic1010 haptic feedback actuators into technologies ranging from simple buttons to full on touch screen devices. It works like this: Novasentis have invented a plastic polymer that bends when voltage is applied. This bender, or actuator, is then placed underneath the surface to be touched in a bent state. When a button is pressed, voltage to the button is modulated to provide a physical and audible click, giving the user the localized feedback missing from contemporary touch screens.

Novasentis shows off just 4 ways Clic1010 actuators can react to being pressed.

Novasentis is currently in talks with many of the major smartphone and tablet manufacturers like Samsung to bring true haptic feedback to consumer devices. Currently, they were only able to show simple prototypes, like 4-button arrays and keyboards, but look for future consumer devices to include this differentiate themselves from the crowd by including these nifty buzzers.

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