Haptic technology, or haptics, is a tactile feedback technology which takes advantage of the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.This mechanical stimulation can be used to assist in the creation of virtual objects in a computer simulation, to control such virtual objects, and to enhance the remote control of machines and devices (telerobotics). It has been described as "doing for the sense of touch what computer graphics does for vision". Haptic devices may incorporate tactile sensors that measure forces exerted by the user on the interface.
Haptic technology has made it possible to investigate how the human sense of touch works by allowing the creation of carefully controlled haptic virtual objects. These objects are used to systematically probe human haptic capabilities, which would otherwise be difficult to achieve. These research tools contribute to the understanding of how touch and its underlying brain functions work.
Tectonic Elements (Former HiWave Technologies) has launched a touch feedback platform for control panels intended to be integrated in household appliances.
The platform allows replacing button controls with flat control panels that still have the familiar feel of a mechanical key press. The key benefit of haptic technology is that panels can be firmly fixed or integral in the appliance, with no need for moving parts. This reduces cost, increases ruggedness and product lifetime, and allows the entire unit to be wiped clean.
The manufacturer’s Taptic demonstration platform uses third-generation haptic technology. It includes two HIHXC9C005-8 haptic actuators, which attach to the back of a flat printed touch interface panel, and a HiHS9002 haptic controller IC. It can work with both capacitive and resistive touch panel technologies. The actuators generate precisely localized acoustic waveforms on the panel to replicate the feel of a mechanical keypad and, if desired, simultaneously overlay audio cues.
The haptic feedback responses can be selected and tuned by both the user and the manufacturer to replicate a wide range of button press sensations. The operating frequency range is over an octave for true wideband haptics and up to 15 kHz for audio playback. A range of audio outputs - from simple pings and clicks to MP3 files containing spoken instructions and music - can also be generated without additional speakers by using the touch panel as the sound emitter.
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