Apr 9, 2009

Last night I dreamt about haptic touch-screen overlays...

Technology Dreams
I just haven't had enough time during the day to focus on my passion for interactive technology. I wish I could grab a picture from my dream about haptic overlays and share it here on my blog!   
To make sure this technology wasn't only in my dreams, I decided to google "haptic overlays", and here are some of the results:

Future Directions for Tactile Feedback (Peter Odum, Idlemode, 1/23/09)
"Current tactile solutions fall short either in reconfigurability or in pre-interaction feedback...And it’s easy to provide a physical sensation after the user interacts, but not to provide buttons that can be physically felt *before* the interaction is committed."

Some of the work regarding haptic or tactile feedback has focused on smaller screens and virtual reality:
Vinyl overlay for tactile feel on iPhone NES emulator
More Details on Nokia Haptikos Tactile Touchscreens
Haptic Overlay Device for Flat Panel Touch Displays (pdf)

Touchscreen Feedback Overview
Team Daimler-Chrysler Touch (pdf)
The Twelfth Haptic Symposium on Haptic Interfaces for Virtual Environment and Teleoperator Systems 2004
Patent: Method and apparatus for multi-touch tactile touch panel actuator mechanisms
Benali-Khoudja, M., Hafez, M., Alexandre, J., Kheddar, A. Tactile Interfaces: A State-of-the-Art Survey (pdf) ISR 2004, 35th International Symposium on Robotics

Here is the concept in the form of a "wearable" design:

The surface of this design looks very much like the overlay material that I was working with in my dream, except that the grid-sensors were the same translucent color as the overlay. (I was trying to program this overlay in my dream, but that is another story!)


Here is some technical information about these little haptic finger overlays- with a little tweaking, they could be transformed into something really cute...
"The key material to the display is an electroactive polymer that can stimulate the skin without using any additional electromechanical transmission. The polymer consists of eight layers of dielectric elastomer actuator films which have been sprayed with electrodes in a specific pattern. Along with a protective layer to separate the electrodes from the skin, the entire polymer sheet is about 210 micrometers thick. In their study, the researchers fabricated an 11 x 14 mm sheet with Velcro on the edges, and rolled it up in the shape of a thimble to be worn on the finger. The display can convey information to the wearer when the electrodes induce a voltage across the films. A voltage causes the films to compress down and expand outward. In doing so, the films put pressure on the wearer’s skin, inducing a “mild sensation.” Like most polymers, the device is hyper-elastic, meaning that it can experience large amounts of elastic strain and recover its original shape.This simple stimulation mechanism, which doesn’t require complex electronics, is one of the greatest advantages of the soft tactile display compared with current displays. Its other benefits include efficient power usage, cost-effectiveness, and easy fabrication. As the researchers note, the new display has lower power and displacement values than is considered optimal, which may limit its applications to specific areas"


The Search Continues...
This journey led me to Nokia's "Morph", a device using nano-materials, something I think I posted about a while ago in one of my blogs. (This video reminds my of some of my more vivid technology dreams. It must be nice to be paid to transform technology dreams into prototypes and demonstration videos!)

The Video:
video

"Launched alongside The Museum of Modern Art “Design and The Elastic Mind” exhibition, the Morph concept device is a bridge between highly advanced technologies and their potential benefits to end-users. This device concept showcases some revolutionary leaps being explored by Nokia Research Center (NRC) in collaboration with the Cambridge Nanoscience Centre (United Kingdom) – nanoscale technologies that will potentially create a world of radically different devices that open up an entirely new spectrum of possibilities."

More haptic/tactile feedback touch interaction:

Nokia's Haptikos Touch Screen Handheld Web Browser










Immersion's Touch Screen: Mimics feel of real buttons
How it works:

Immersion's Fitness Market Brief (pdf)

UPDATE 7/4/09
Apple is working on this sort of thing, in a way. See my recent post:
Haptic/Tactile Feedback for the iPhone? MacRumors says, "YES!"


Dreams about haptic overlays: Part Two: Bridging the gap between virtual and physical controls on tabletops.
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