Researchers from IIT-Madras have developed a new touchscreen technology enabling users to feel the textures of objects on the display
Presently, the touchscreens used for phones and other devices can only sense the position of one’s fingers but do not give any feedback. While receiving feedback would provide a better experience working with computers or phones. Hence, a team led by Prof M Manivannan, department of applied mechanics, IIT-M. Merkel Haptics has developed a new touchscreen display that allows users to feel the textures of objects on the display, called ‘iTad’ (interactive Touch Active Display). It can mimic textures like crisp edges and gritty surfaces. It also integrates multi-touch sensing with haptics on the same layer.
“This is the era of iTad. Technology can take the online shopping experience to the next level. We can touch and feel things before purchasing them on e-commerce platforms. Around 30% of returns in online shopping are due to the mismatch between user experience and expectation,” said Manivannan.
This new touchscreen display called iTad has no moving parts. It is comprised of an in-built multi-touch sensor that detects finger movement and the surface friction is adjusted via software. The electric field is controlled using a physical phenomenon known as ‘electroadhesion,’ the software changes friction locally as fingers travel across a smooth plane.
PV Padmapriya, the CEO, of Merkel Haptics, said: “The prototype from Touchlab can be made into a product in a year. We aim to make a small device, similar to a computer mouse, on everyone’s desk to add to the experience. We have been field testing and providing valuable feedback to the researchers at IIT-M on improving the functionality of the technology.”