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Illumination & Displays

Tactile touch technology

Tianma NLT

Tianma NLT America (TNAM) introduces an LCD prototype with a tactile touch technology developed by NLT Technologies. This technology recreates the sense of tactile texture to the users by using electric vibrations and reproduces skin sensations as if they are tracing actual objects on the display.

The display provides texture via skin sensation when the user traces the surface of the display where the image is shown. If multiple fingers touch the display at the same time, the digits on the area where the image is shown can feel the appropriate texture, but the digits on the area without the image will not feel the texture. This enables users to identify which area on a display the image is shown, not only visually, but also through tactile feel.

The stimulus can be localized in conjunction with the image object, enabling each finger to sense its own stimulus, so the display can accommodate multi-finger or multi-person tactile interaction with visual information.

A conventional tactile touch system (e.g., smartphones) presents the same sensation over the entire surface so that all fingers coming into contact with the surface experience the same sensation. In contrast, the new NLT tactile touch technology provides regional stimulation, which is provided by electrostatic force. The electrostatic force is generated by the beat phenomenon in a region where excited X electrodes cross excited Y electrodes, which presents tactile sensation to the users. The tactile touch technology applied to the panel provides multi-finger interaction.

The display arranges multiple electrodes horizontally (X) and vertically (Y) on the glass panel and applies voltage with different frequencies to each X and Y electrode located on the image area. Electrostatic force corresponding to the difference in the frequencies occurs at the electrodes' cross point. When user traces on the surface, friction variation, modulated by the electrostatic force, occurs. The display uses this friction variation to provide the tactile sensation. The friction variation does not occur at the areas without images, so it is possible to localize the region to be stimulated and achieve the multi-finger function. This tactile technology with the matrix electrodes arrangement consists of a relatively small number of electrodes, enabling the display to be higher in density and larger in size.

Touchscreens are a vital interface for today's information technology devices. The tactile display offers a new user experience, such as improving the usability and realistic sensation of the display, or enabling sharing of the "feeling" among users via the internet. The regional stimulation feature can be useful in many applications, including smart devices, cockpit displays in autos and aircraft to prevent the driver or pilot from being visually distracted, and in devices for the visually impaired.