HiWave's Taptics replaces button controls with flat control panels - Embedded.com

HiWave’s Taptics replaces button controls with flat control panels

  • New platform targets 300m-unit home appliance market with position-specific haptic touch platform for printed control panels
  • Taptics enables localized haptic response and programmable touch effects to replicate feeling of mechanical key press on flat panels

HiWave Technologies has launched Taptic, a touch feedback platform for control panels for 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 300m-unit per annum home appliance market. The platform enables the 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 3rd dimension haptics and 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.

Using the company's Bending Wave technology, the actuators 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 Bending Wave Haptics is that the panel can be firmly fixed or integral in the appliance. No physical movement is necessary, as bending waves create the tactile sensation locally in the touch panel. This reduces cost, increases ruggedness and product lifetime, and enables the entire unit to be 'wipe clean'. 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.

Click on image to enlarge.

The flexibility provided by HiWave's algorithms processed in its 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 15kHz 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.

Unlike mechanical buttons, printed panels can be easily cleaned so don't harbour dirt and bacteria and are much more robust in a busy environment. Moreover, they are inexpensive to develop and produce, allowing white goods manufacturers to easily upgrade features and update the aesthetics of their products.

HiWave will demonstrate the Taptics reference platform in June at the Eurohaptics 2012 conference, Finland.

HiWave's Taptics reference platform is available for demonstration now and evaluation units will be available during Q2 of calendar year 2012. The HiHS9002 control IC and HIHX9C005-8 haptic exciters are also available immediately, in high volume quantities, from HiWave and its distributors.

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