Phones let you feel at CES

2012-01-13 19:42
A tablet made by Senseg is demonstrated at the 2012 International CES tradeshow in Las Vegas. (Julie Jacobson, AP)

A tablet made by Senseg is demonstrated at the 2012 International CES tradeshow in Las Vegas. (Julie Jacobson, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Las Vegas - Sure, today's phones can deliver the sound of a heartbeat. But how would you like to actually feel the throbbing?

A few companies want to replace the crude vibration motors in today's phones and tablets with something that provides a much wider range of sensations, allowing you to feel the rumble of a Harley or the reverberation of a shotgun blast. The new technology can even let you feel the outlines of a button on the screen.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show, the gigantic gadget conclave in Las Vegas this week, a company called Artificial Muscle Inc demonstrated how it can make mobile devices shake and rattle with great realism, employing a technology that uses plastics that function like muscles.

The company showed off an iPhone it had modified by placing one of its Vivitouch "motors" inside. The phone shook as it ran a simple ball-rolling game. The plastic muscle provided the feeling not just of the ball hitting the walls of a maze, but of the slight vibration it made while rolling freely across the floor.

When it was used for typing, the phone gave a buzzing sensation that confirmed each press of the virtual keys.

'Muscle'

In another demonstration, a Vivitouch motor shook a modified Xbox controller to allow the user to feel what it's like to hold a beating heart. In another instance, it let the user experience the signature rumble of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle starting up.

The vibration engines that go into today's phones and game controllers consist of an electric motor that spins a metal weight. They take time to start up and are effective at only one frequency. That means they are unable to provide varying sensations. It's pretty much the same rumble or buzz every time.

With Vivitouch motors, users will have "high-definition feel", said Dirk Schapeter, CEO of Artificial Muscle.

The company is owned by German chemical giant Bayer AG and is a spinoff from SRI International. Another technology from this California-based research institute was integrated into the iPhone in 2011: Siri, the virtual personal assistant that talks to you.

Artificial Muscle's motors contain strips of "muscle". When an electric charge is applied over the strips, they expand and contract at a frequency that can be precisely controlled.

The first product to use Vivitouch came out in September. It's the Mophie Pulse, a sleeve for the iPod Touch that's intended to make games more lifelike.

The next step for the company is to get the motor built into phones. Schapeter said there will be a couple of those on the market this year, from companies he wouldn't identify. He did not say how much the Vivitouch would cost.

Coating

Artificial Muscle isn't the only company trying to cause a sensation. Senseg OY of Finland has an exotic way of turning electricity into feeling. By applying a (non-shocking) electric field through the screen of a tablet, it can provide resistance to the movement of the user's finger. So a glossy, smooth screen can suddenly feel rough.

"The palette of effects that's available is enormous," said David Rice, vice president of marketing at Senseg.

The feature should be easy to add to tablets, since it consists solely of a chip and an additional coating on the screen, Rice said. The company is in talks with tablet makers. It might be included in products due late this year. He would not say how much it would add to the price.

The technology could help users "feel" a scroll bar, for instance, or the boundaries of an image. Each letter in a text message could register as a little "bump", making it easier to select parts of the text.

Or the slingshot you pull back to fire an angry bird could register more and more resistance the farther you pull it back, Rice added.

"It's little things. It's not something that's going to immediately blow you away," Rice said. But if it becomes pervasive, it'll be something "you'll recognise when it's gone".
- AP
Read more on:    mobile
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may be bothering you. A flooded mind and impulsive reactions are not a good combination as you are not thinking clearly....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.