Touch sensation adds consumer appeal to interfaces in electronic products

HiWave Technologies has launched its first haptics controller IC. The device is designed for use with the company’s haptic exciters to deliver real-time touch feedback to users’ fingertips. HiWave’s haptic solutions use the company’s patented bending wave technology to create and position tactile sensations on conventional flat panels.

HiWave Technologies has launched its first haptics controller IC. Picture: HiWave

Dubbed HIHS9002, the new device has extremely low latency when receiving co-ordinates and vectors from a host system processor and delivering stored haptic signals to the transducers. The timing of the tactile response, with reference to the user’s anticipation of mechanical feedback, is critical to the successful deployment of haptics. HiWave’s signal library comprises a range of haptic clicks and textures that allow straightforward implementation of button, trackpad and scroll features. In addition, it contains audio cues that can be delivered through the same transducers, which turn the flat panel or display into a loudspeaker. Multiple haptic signals and audio cues are stored in the chip’s non-volatile memory, enabling appropriate feedback to be generated to accompany the key-press or gesture being invoked by the user.

HiWave’s real-time rendering algorithms are fundamental to the implementation of bending wave haptics and are embedded in the controller. One of their key functions is to compensate in advance for the signal dispersion and interference that occurs between the actuators and the point of finger contact. The processing is parametrically tuned to the given panel or screen implementation. It optimises for size, shape, material characteristics and mounting. The HIHS9002 dynamically generates bespoke waveforms, tailored to the prevailing touch co-ordinates, for feeding into a pair of haptic exciters. In this way, the sensation is refined for the application.

Applications for HiWave’s haptics controller chips include hand-held computing and communications, data entry terminals, keypads, chip/pin readers, industrial control and home appliances. Samples are available now.

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