Fujitsu enriches potential touch browsing experience by giving the sensation of roughness and smoothness to a tablet’s surface.
Haptic feedback, also known as resistive or force feedback, is an important feature in touchscreens today. Vibrations for example, give the sensation of actually pressing something, against what would otherwise be a simple, featureless touch panel surface.
Fujitsu, pushing the advantages of this feature even further, has developed a prototype tablet that not only gives the user a sense of actually accessing something, but even simulates solid texture to whatever is accessed on the touchscreen. The technology uses controlled ultrasonic vibrations, and the temporary change in the perceived level of friction on the surface is what creates the sensation of smoothness or roughness to the touch panel surface. Depending on what is touched on the screen, the unit could simply adjust the vibrations to give a smooth or a rough texture effect.
To simulate a smooth, almost frictionless surface, the ultrasonic waves pass through uniformly to the panel surface. The miniscule floating or elevating effect on the touch medium of this method lowers the perceived level of friction, thus giving the sensation of a smoother surface.
To simulate a rough surface, the unit divides the panel into small, separate sections, with evenly spotted portions having increased smoothness using the previous method. The difference in overall smoothness of the panel surface is what would provide the rough sensation to the touch medium.
Aside from the touch stimulating benefits of this concept, a touch panel that could control its perceived level of smoothness or roughness could also help make other apps seem more realistic. In guitar and piano apps for example, the user can have the sensation of actually strumming the guitar strings, or actually pressing the key of a piano.
Fujitsu plans on diversifying the concept further to other types of solid textures, as it goes nearer and nearer towards standard commercial use. The company estimates that it will be able to finalize the technology for use on actual touchscreens as early as 2015.