Thursday, January 6, 2011

NXT’s Haptic Tactile Feedback Module Simultaneously Creates Touch Sensation and Sound on Flat Panels

CAMBRIDGE, England--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- NXT plc has announced a 15mm x 10mm control module that, in combination with two 0.5W moving coil transducers, adds haptic touch to a flat panel whilst simultaneously turning the panel into a loudspeaker. The module is designed primarily for applications in white goods, security systems, home automation and industrial control.

The haptic effect makes a touch panel feel like a mechanical keypad or keyboard. The NXT HCM-1 module controls the transducers, which generate bending waves across the surface of the panel, creating the sensation of pressing a mechanical key when a user touches it. The touch panel also acts as a flat-panel speaker, using the same drive module and transducers. The speaker can be used to provide additional confirmation of a positive touch on the panel or audible confirmation of other circuit functions being activated. It can also be used to deliver voice feed prompts, advertising messages, or entertainment.

The use of two transducers results in even dispersion of signal strength across the whole touch panel.

NXT will develop additional control modules for displays, multi-touch feedback and alternative transducer types. Higher power versions for large displays are also planned.

NXT CEO, James Lewis, said: “Touch technology has replaced conventional switches and keys in many applications because it reduces cost while delivering a better user experience and higher reliability. Panels are wipe-clean and it’s easy to seal them against the ingress of contaminant. This new module enables product manufacturers to quickly and easily implement the latest advance in touch technology. Haptic touch eliminates the ‘touch and hope’ experience for users of traditional resistive and capacitive touch panels. Utilising our patented techniques to create displacement of the panel surface, it provides a touch experience that closely resembles that of pressing a mechanical key, making touch panels far more user-friendly. The ability to produce audio feedback using the same devices is an added bonus in many applications.”

The HCM-1 operates from a single +3.3V power supply. Operating current consumption depends on the transducers being driven and the haptic signal profile but the module consumes only 20µA in standby. Engineering samples are being offered to key partners now, with mass production parts available in February 2011 at a price of $6.70 each in 100+ quantities.

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