HiWave Technologies has launched a touch feedback platform for control panels to be integrated in everyday household appliances.
The platform will enable manufacturers to simplify the production process by replacing button controls with flat control panels that maintain the feel of a mechanical key press, when touched. HiWave will initially target the 300 million unit per year home appliance market with this innovative technology to enable the faithful reproduction of the feel that a traditional mechanical button, switch or keypad produces when pressed on microwaves, fridge-freezers, hobs and ovens. The technology also brings benefits to industrial, commercial and medical touch control panels.
The Taptic demonstration platform uses HiWave third dimension haptics, it incorporates two HiWave HIHXC9C005-8 haptic actuators, which attach to the back of a flat printed touch interface panel, and a HiWave HiHS9002 haptic control integrated circuit. It can work with both capacitive and resistive touch panel technologies.
By using the company's patented Bending Wave technology, the actuators precisely deliver waveforms across the panel to replicate the feel of a mechanical keypad and, if desired, simultaneously overlay audio cues. The key benefit of HiWave's patented Bending Wave Haptics is that the panel can be firmly fixed, or integral in the appliance. No physical movement is necessary as Bending Waves creates the tactile sensation locally in the touch panel. This reduces cost, increases ruggedness and product lifetime, as well as enabling the entire unit to wipe clean. Moreover, this is achieved with a high level of mechanical efficiency by HiWave's patented inertial exciters, resulting in crisp tactile sensation with low power consumption.
HiWave's algorithms processed in the company‘s haptic control chip enables haptic feedback responses to be precisely selected and tuned by both the user and manufacturer to replicate a wide range of button press sensations. The frequency of operation delivers over an octave for true wideband haptics, and up to 15-kHz for audio playback. A range of audio feedbacks – from simple pings and clicks to MP3 files containing spoken instructions and music - can also be delivered without additional speakers by using the touch panel as the sound emitter.
HiWave's Taptics reference platform is available for demonstration and evaluation units will be available during 2Q12. The HiHS9002 control IC and HIHX9C005-8 haptic exciters are also available immediately, in high volume quantities, from HiWave and its distributors.
This sounds a lot more interesting than the old-fashioned haptics that were done using DC motors to vibrate the touch panel. Those in no way duplicated the feel of pressing a mechanical button -- more like the feel of getting an electric shock!