Feedback to users improved by haptics platform for small touchscreens
With Bullfinch, said to be the first 4G-haptics platform optimised for a smartphone’s small form factor, 4G haptic responses can be customized according to where a user touches the screen, what application they’re in and how hard they press.
Bullfinch optimizes both haptic hardware and software for a smartphone form factor and delivers a realistic multi-touch feedback response only to the point of contact/s, rather than the whole device or screen.
Bullfinch is able to accurately reproduce, on a flat screen, a wide range of customisable haptic responses that mimic real world key press sensations, be it a home key, a volume slider, a 2-level (focus/shoot) camera button or even a phone’s qwerty keyboard. The inclusion of pressure sensing technology also enables the user to feel the key before they press down.
Bullfinch is suited to runnig on Gorilla Glass and can also run on the phone’s steel or aluminium back panels. It has been optimised across a range of screen sizes from the iPhone 5’s 4-in. wide-aspect ratio screen to a 6-in. phablet. To demonstrate it in action, the company has also announced Bullfinch-D, an OEM demonstration platform that integrates a standard smartphone 4.7-in., 16:9 aspect-ratio touch panel.
Bullfinch-D uses two Redux small-form-factor transducers, positioned at either end of the touchscreen, to deliver this feedback. These are controlled via an ARM Cortex M3 microprocessor. The platform assimilates touch coordinate data from the touch panel and a touch-sensitive layer and uses the company’s bending wave physics to relay the feedback back to the point/points of contact.
Like all Redux’s systems, Bullfinch is technology agnostic for both touch and pressure-sensing components, making it compatible with the majority of dual and single function technologies. The Bullfinch-D demonstration platform integrates an electroactive-polymer ink from Perotec to manage both capacitive touch and pressure detection.
James Lewis, Redux Labs CEO said: “The resolution of the haptic feedback is limited only by the sensing technologies and these typically work in terms of microns, which is more than enough for mimicking even complex layouts like a keyboard. The bigger challenge is delivering these complex wave forms that mimic real world key presses with no perceivable lag, which was a our big breakthrough.”
Unlike competing haptic techniques, such as electrostatics, using bending wave physics to drive sub sonic frequencies consumes very little power and does not noticeably affect battery life.
Redux’s bending wave physics can also be used, simultaneously, to drive high-quality audio from the screen allowing phone manufacturers to integrate the additional 4G haptics functionality and replacing the phone’s existing speaker with a better quality, front facing one, without increasing the bill of materials.
James Lewis said: “There’s a reason why some people are still willing to sacrifice half their screen for a keyboard and that is because touch delivers a subtlety of feeling and by re-introducing this into the phone we can use the phone more naturally, quickly and intuitively, without needing to stare down to make sure we aren’t typing nonsense.”
The Bullfinch-D platform is available for demonstration immediately and a whitepaper on the evolution and future of haptic feedback is available via the Redux Labs homepage.
Redux Labs; www.reduxst.com