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Feel the image by touching screen! New technology

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: Oct 18, 2022 7:00 PM

Read Time: 3 minute

You can now touch the images on your screen and feel them by feeling their texture. This is not science fiction, but rather a claim made by IIT Madras researchers.

Researchers have created a new touchscreen display technology that allows users to feel the textures of images as they move their fingers across the touch surface.

The 'iTad' invention is an interactive touch active display. According to the IIT, it is the next generation of Touch Display technology. The researchers can use software to create various textures such as crisp edges, switches, and rich textures ranging from smooth to gritty. Smooth physical surfaces bring to life a new level of interaction.

Touch Display technology

There are no moving parts in iTad. Instead, an in-built multi-touch sensor detects the movement of the finger, and surface friction is adjusted via software. By controlling electric fields via a physical phenomenon known as ‘electroadhesion,’ the software modulates friction locally as fingers travel across a smooth plane, said the IIT.

Prof. M. Manivannan, CoE on Virtual Reality and Haptics, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, led the study. Merkel Haptics, a start-up incubated at the IIT Madras Research Park, has been collaborating with Touchlab researchers to advance the technology.

Highlighting the impact this technology could have on Electronic Appliances, Prof. M. Manivannan, Department of Applied Mechanics, IIT Madras, “This is the era of iTad. The technology can take the online shopping experience to the next level. We can touch and feel things before we buy from e-commerce platforms. Around 30 per cent of returns to online shopping are due to the mismatch of user experience, their expectation is different by looking at the images online.”

Small device similar to computer mouse

Elaborating on the current status of ‘iTad’ and a timeline for hitting the market with possible applications in the real world, Dr. P.V. Padmapriya, CEO, Merkel Haptics, said, “The prototype from the Touchlab can be made into the product in a year’s time. Our aim is 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 Madras on improving the functionality of the technology.”

Explaining how this ‘iTad’ differs from contemporary technologies, Prof. M. Manivannan said “Currently computer touchscreens can only sense the position of your fingers on the screen, but offers no feedback. When we add feedback, the interaction with computers becomes experiential. iTad is unlike anything else on the market today because it combines multi-touch sensing with haptics on the same layer.”

Touch, or haptics, is unique among the senses in that it is bilateral, with two aspects rather than one. Touch-enabled surfaces from iTad can both receive (sensing finger position) and provide touch feedback.

Touch feedback has previously been limited to 'Vibrotactile' vibrations such as those found in mobile phones. A Resonating voice coil is used to provide the smartphone's familiar buzz of alerts and confirmations. Surface haptics has no moving parts because iTad is a fully integrated solution with a single controller and solid-state actuator.

Textures and haptic effects can be harmonised across size, shape, and surface, especially on large and curved displays. iTad is a multifaceted solution with numerous applications.

Also Read: Microsoft Surface Pro 9 Tablet लॉन्च, देखें पावरफुल फीचर्स के साथ स्टाइलिश लुक

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