An image of a powered-off device screen. Part of the screen is raised in the configuration of a mobile keyboard. A ribbon cable extends from the left of a PCB underneath the screen and the PCB extends below the bottom edge of the screen with a sticker that has a stylized manufacturer logo that may read "Wisecoco."

Electroosmotic Haptics For More Tactile Touch Devices

If you’re like us, one of the appeals of retro tech is the tactile feedback you get from real buttons. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a new method for bringing haptic feedback to touchscreen devices.Labeled exploded view of the device stackup. The individual layers from top (output) to bottom (reservoir) are labeled Silicone, PCB & Electrodes, Adhesive, Glass Fiber, PET, Adhesive, PCB & Electrodes, Adhesive, Delrin, Adhesive, and PET. It also shows the different parts as sections of Output Layer (silicone), Pumping Layer, and Reservoir Layer (Adhesive, Delrin, Adhesive, PET).

Using an array of miniaturized electroosmotic pumps, the current prototype devices offer 5 mm of displacement from a 5 mm stackup which is a significant improvement over previous technologies which required a lot more hardware than the displacement provided. When placed under a flexible screen, notifications and other user interactions like the keyboard can raise and lower as desired.

Each layer is processed by laser before assembly and the finished device is self-contained, needing only electrical connections. No need for a series of tubes carrying fluid to make it work. Interaction surfaces have been able to scale from 2-10 mm in diameter with the current work, but do appear to be fixed based on the video (below the break).

You might find applications for haptics in VR or want to build your own Haptic Smart Knob.

Continue reading “Electroosmotic Haptics For More Tactile Touch Devices”

Tactile Feedback In VR, No Cumbersome Gloves Or Motors Required

This clever research from the University of Chicago’s Human Computer Integration Lab demonstrates a fascinating way to let users “feel” objects in VR, without anything getting in the way of using one’s hands and fingers normally. Certainly, the picture here shows hands with a device attached to them, but look closely and you’ll see that it’s on the back of the hand only.

There’s hardware attached to the hands, yes, but only to the backs. Hands and fingers can be used entirely normally while receiving tactile feedback.

The unique device consists of a control box, wires, and some electrodes attached to different spots on the back of the hand and fingers. Carefully modulated electrical signals create tactile sensations on the front, despite originating from electrodes on the back. While this has clear applications for VR, the team thinks the concept could also have applications in rehabilitation, or prosthetics.

Continue reading “Tactile Feedback In VR, No Cumbersome Gloves Or Motors Required”