Toshiba Information Systems (Japan) Corp exhibited a new tactile interface utilizing electric field changes in its exhibition booth at the 13th Embedded Systems Expo (ESEC), which is taking place from May 12 to 14, 2010, in Tokyo.
The company realized the interface by using a technology called "Senseg E-Sense," which was developed by Senseg Oy of Finland.
Weak field changes are produced in the place touched by the user to change the tactile sensation. The field changes are weak but can be sensed by a human finger.
Toshiba Information Systems exhibited three devices in its booth: an iPod touch whose front surface is covered by a film, an iPod touch whose back surface is covered by a film and a PC touchpad covered by a film.
In the demonstration of the iPod Touch, the company provided a feeling of resistance for a visual interface that is operated like sliding a door open. Also, when a finger moved across the image of a button, I could feel the "protrusion" of the button.
On the other hand, in the demonstration of the PC touchpad, the bristles of brush, a textured surface, a rugged material, etc were shown on a PC screen. When a cursor went over them, their textures could be felt on the touchpad.
The Senseg E-Sense is different from a haptic technology, which utilizes vibration to give a tactile sensation for a device equipped with a touch panel. The Senseg E-Sense is more indestructible than a haptic technology and can be used even on a curved surface because it does not require any mechanical part.
"The price will be ¥10 to 20 (approx US$0.11-0.22) per film though it depends on the volume," Toshiba Information Systems said. And Senseg said, "We are discussing business with companies other than Toshiba. E-book readers and tablet PCs using the new technology will be shipped in the first half of 2011. And we expect that smartphones will come with the technology in the second half of 2011."