January 11, 2017
Whether it be an Apple Watch alerting you with a pulse about an upcoming meeting or a smartphone vibrating to inform you of an incoming message, technology is often used to create the virtual sense of touch. While this sensation happens primarily through a smooth piece of glass, Tanvas, a startup based out of Northwestern University, unveiled their TanvasTouch and their innovative version of haptic technology called “Surface Haptics” at CES 2017.
Surface Haptics – or programmable haptic effects on physical surfaces – are a new branch of haptics pioneered by Ed Colgate and Michael Peshkin at Northwestern’s Neuroscience and Robotics Lab. With a swipe of the finger, you can program and simulate an unlimited range of sensations – from clicks and bumps to textures and even guitar strings.
Traci Hailpern, public relations representative at Tanvas, informed us that by using the friction of your finger, the screen causes different sensations such as wavy, grainy, fine and choppy.
“Our goal at CES is to provide a glimpse of what’s possible and, like our first-mover partners, inspire a new wave of creative innovators to build TanvasTouch into their products and applications.” – Greg Topel, CEO of Tanvas.
During our demo, the prototype glass was laid over the Nexus 9. As we moved our finger across the screen, we definitely felt something. The company has partnered with Bonobos to build a shopping experience in which users will be able to feel their corduroy pants before they buy them. Another application they unveiled at CES is its use in cars, giving drivers the ability to distinguish between the many knobs, controls, and buttons available on touch screens in modern models.
“Imagine how stark life would be if everything we touched felt exactly the same: smooth, hard and featureless. Yet that is precisely the experience that we’ve been forced to accept in the digital world. No more! Our mission is to bring “touch” fully into the touchscreen experience. We create the technology and tools that support rich, versatile and satisfying tactile experiences.” – Ed Colgate, Co-Founder of Tanvas
This was notably one of the most innovative technologies at CES and showed us a glimpse of what is possible for creative innovators.
The article has been updated since it’s original post with new information
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