HAPTIC TECHNOLOGY AND IN2TEC
Haptic technology, recreating the sense of touch, is widely regarded as the emerging technology forming the next step of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), in that current devices enable users to see and hear a virtual world, or the floating interfaces of augmented reality, but when they reach out to touch them, we feel nothing.
Virtual interfacing controllers or clothing, such as gloves or suits, track user’s movements and recreate them in the virtual or augmented reality, meaning the user convincingly controls the limbs of their virtual counterpart as they perform actions, such as holding a banana. Haptic technology is layered on top of this, allowing the user to convincingly feel the curve of the banana in their hand. Beyond this, with advanced tactile systems even the unique texture of that particular banana can be felt.
This is enabled by layering the series of inputs allowing movement in virtual space, with an additional capacity to sense the users force of movement, alongside a series of feedback devices that activate in unison with the inputs, simulating the response of your touch as it would in real life.
This technology is not to be taken lightly, the applications go far beyond holding virtual bananas, from remote surgery to military command systems, all the way to the full immersion forewarned in films such as The Matrix. However, the technology still has a lot of work to be done before we really have to wonder if we are in a completely convincing virtual reality.
In2tec has a special interest in the technology enabling haptic technology, because we are a leading provider of bespoke flexible electronic solutions. Haptic gloves will never convince someone they are holding a banana if the interconnections between the various components do not bend and flex seamlessly with the user’s hand movements, or if there is a noticeable delay between movement and feeling caused by a low-latency connection.
Utilising our patented Iflex technology and a global team of leading engineers (that set industry standards by sitting on boards such as the IPC), we can support both cutting edge haptic technology and already emerged technologies with greater connectivity, durability, less weight and the most sustainable flexible electronics on the market.
These benefits are applicable to every industry utilising electronic connections, and our broad research and development efforts are being applied practically right now for customers from banking to motorsport, enabling market leading reliable interconnects, interfaces and much more that grant clients competitive advantages in both functionality and aesthetics.
Read on to learn about the existing technology on the cutting edge of this exciting field or get in touch with In2tec now to see how we can apply cutting-edge technology to solve your companies’ issues and realise your ideas. Send a brief description of your unique situation to [email protected] or call us on 01536 419200 to see you how your company can use our technology to beat the competition.
THE LATEST HAPTIC TECHNOLOGY
The most basic form of haptic technology is likely in your possession: The vibrations felt as you type on a touchscreen device. But beyond the basics there are interesting advances being made. In an attempt to make the experience as life-like as possible, some versions of haptic interfaces are being tested, that work via magnetically suspended feedback devices that drop with varying degrees of force through electromagnetic feedback loops depending on the force of users movements.
Another direction of haptic interfaces is into thin air, not disappearing, rather that jets of air are blown at various forces to stimulate the sense of touch. This is ground breaking, because the user doesn’t even wear a device, which can impair movement and break immersion. However, electromagnetic and air based haptic interfaces are currently conceptual and far from professional or consumer use.
Kinetic haptic interface are closer to distribution and being applied to broad applications. In2tec’s reliable, high-speed, high-latency flexible electronic interconnects can be used with any electronics system, from the following high-tech haptic technology to traditional buttons and switches, and everything in between. Get in touch now by calling 01536 419200 or emailing [email protected] to see how your company could benefit.
One of our own inventions utilising haptic technology is the In2tec In2sense smart office. Utilising cutting edge In2sense 3D technology, our engineers invented a tray table with a secret until lit keyboard that can connect to any display. This was made possible by our expertise in flawless capacitive touch, contoured flexible electronics and aerospace grade materials. It was made necessary by air travel passengers increasing desire for connected technologies and made to meet the health and safety specifications of passenger aeroplanes, with secure electronic connectivity and anti-microbial materials.
As many devices use different connections, the smart office can be built in three variants: working with a built-in display, connecting via Bluetooth to portable devices or a combination of the two. From similar designs in the back of cars and coaches, to seamless keyboards built into desks and walls, we are consistently identifying new applications for the Smart Office keyboard, helping our clients design dreams become reality.
Another company, Teslasuit, has incorporated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) into virtual reality interfacing haptic suits, bringing users ever closer to fully immersive constructed realities. This could enable travel agencies to sell virtual holidays, where you can feel the blistering heat or cold of deserts or mountains without leaving the country and with none of the risk.
While artificial alpine exploration may excite some, others may dread the implications to our sense of reality that may come from such applications, however before dismissing haptic technology, consider the practical applications. 17 years ago, the first complete remote surgery was conducted, since named “The Lindbergh Operation” (detailed in Transatlantic Robot-Assisted Telesurgery by Marescaux J et al in Nature magazine, 2001). A surgeon in New York performed a cholecystectomy on a patient in France (3871 miles away). This was accomplished with precision robotics operated by traditional switches and buttons and can be deemed an early form of haptic interface, due to force feedback when the surgeon moved close to tissue or organs.
More advanced, modern haptic technology can allow more complicated remote procedures that require precise hand-eye coordination, such as brain surgery, to happen in the future. This has incredible implications for those otherwise inaccessible by top surgeons, such as those living in third world countries or, in the future, on other planets. In2tec’s Iflex flexible electronic interconnects superior flexibility, connectivity and reliability make it the best option for future manufacturers of remote interplanetary surgery equipment, however until then we are applying the technology to real world issues such as remote health monitoring and reliable cash machines.
MILITARY APPLICATIONS OF HAPTIC TECHNOLOGY
The military applications of haptic technology are being tested globally, with commands that would traditionally be signalled with hand or arm movements being sent by haptic feedback using belts with haptic systems wrapped around soldiers’ waists. This innovation is aimed at minimising potential for human error in communicating and receiving commands and avoiding the disasters that can follow misinterpretation.
In2tec’s flat shielded twisted pair cabling would allow construction of haptic command relays similar to in these tests, with uninterruptible electronic connections with extreme durability that can withstand the rigours of field combat. We advise using less advanced interconnects in static situations with less critical data transfer, but compromises should never be made when it comes to electronics that must work flawlessly without maintenance for a long time.
We currently employ this technology with our banking customers to connect electromechanical components that move around cash machines, where poor connectivity and inflexibility can lead to dispensing incorrect cash amounts, by general fault or deliberate attacks, and unnecessary regular maintenance costs.
According to James Hayward at IDTechEx “haptics is commonly touted as one of the key areas with unmet technology needs, providing fuel to drive new investment for new players with new technologies to serve this future market.”. In2tec are committed to meeting the technology needs of both emerging and existing technology, and we can work on your project now.
GET AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION
Call In2tec on 01536 419200 or email [email protected] to find out how In2tec’s advanced technology will benefit your company, solving long accepted issues and putting you ahead of the competition with unique marketplace advantages. If you need more information before contacting us, visit www.in2tec.com