Touch screens, the input device of the 21st century are due for a major upgrade. While they may be convenient they have always lacked any type of direct feedback, forcing us to live with passive feed back, the incessant beeping of the touch screen keyboard. Finnish company Senseg have recently announced a revolutionary technology that provides feed back directly to your fingers as you swipe the touch screen. Dubbed feel screen technology Senseg is able to simulate various physical textures, edges, contours and vibrations, putting the touch back into typing.
“By passing an ultra-low electrical current into the insulated electrode, Senseg’s Tixel, the proprietary charge driver can create a small attractive force to finger skin. By modulating this attractive force a variety of sensations can be generated, from textured surfaces and edges to vibrations and more” Dave Rice, Senseg
Senseg’s technology is the fist purely electrical high fidelity tactile effects engine. With no mechanical or moving parts involved the tactile feed-back is instant and silent, not something that is possible with the mechanical systems of the past. The magic behind Senseg’s technology is the Tixel, a patent pending technology that combines an ultra-thin durable coating with integrated electrodes and the controller circuits.
The Tixel generates the touch sensation by taking advantage of Coloumb’s force, an electrostatic attractive force exerted between objects that contain a charge. The very low voltage passed through the insulated electrodes exerts a slight force on the finger, changing the amount of friction between the screen and your finger. The change in friction is able to fool our fingers into thinking the surface has texture or movement The high fidelity tactile effects can include a surface that feels rough, smooth, curved, flat, sticky, or slippery among others.
Established in 2006 Senseg has been pushing hard to get the technology into the next generation of touch screen gadgets. To make the process easy Senseg have also released developer tools, controller boards and software Application Programming Interfaces, everything needed by hardware and software companies to integrate Senseg technology. The current generation touch screen gadgets have missed the Senseg boat, there is no ability to retro fit this to existing tablets or smart-phones as the technology must be integrated at the design phase. Once the technology begins to emerge in the latest tablets and smartphones the technology will need to be integrated into games and applications to fully take advantage of the technology. Even though it may sound like a long road this technology will change the way we interact with our gadgets. Along with API’s Senseg have developed FeelEx Studio to allow programmers to design and test Senseg effects.
The touch screen interface has taken the world by storm but it is an incomplete victory with the humble old keyboard still being far superior for many tasks, data entry for example. Senseg may be about to change this forever, making the touch screen superior to the trusty only keyboard. With the ability to generate many tactile feelings for your fingers, outline keys and respond to key presses Senseg and it’s Tixel will allow touch screens to do things the old qwerty keyboard can only dream of.