Artificial Muscle, Inc., is introducing a new technology called ViviTouch that allows you to literally feel what is pictured on your smartphone or tablet screen. The technology brings “high-definition feel” to games to provide the rumble of your stock car as you virtually fire it up before a race, for example.
It works through motors embedded in the gadget that contain strips of “muscles” that expand and contract at a frequency that can be closely controlled when an electric charge is applied. Up until now, devices have only had electric motors that spin a metal weight that are effective only at one frequency, allowing for something like a vibration instead of a ringtone. You can view an introductory video from Artificial Muscle, Inc. here.
Another new technology from Senseg OY is also bringing a tactile experience to tablets and smartphones by applying an electric field through the screen and providing a specific type of resistance. This allows you to feel a scrollbar, or the outlines of “buttons”, or the boundaries of an image. It would also make games more lifelike, adding resistance as you pull back the slingshot in Angry Birds. Evidently all it requires in a tablet is a chip and special coating to the screen.
Both of these technologies are rumored to be hitting the market sometime this year possibly, but no specific names have been dropped and there is no word on how much they will add to the overall price tag of the gadgets. It is amazing to see though how advanced our tablets and smartphones continue to become, and how the line between reality and technology gets more and more blurred.