Senseg has been showing off a new prototype of a very different type of touchscreen which could be with us as soon as next year.
Senseg has dubbed it the “feel screen” and as the name suggests, it allows for the creation of textures on a touchscreen that the user can actually feel.
The haptic display creates an electrostatic field the finger can sense rather than using any mechanical vibration type effects.
The company explains: “Senseg’s patented solution creates a sophisticated sensation of touch using Coulomb’s force, the principle of attraction between electrical charges.”
“By passing an ultra-low electrical current into the insulated electrode, Senseg’s Tixel, the proprietary charge driver can create a small attractive force to finger skin. By modulating this attractive force a variety of sensations can be generated, from textured surfaces and edges to vibrations and more.”
This extra dimension of immersion could be used for all sorts of purposes. For example, when playing a tablet game, you’d be able to feel the bumpiness of the terrain. Or if using a virtual keyboard, the keys would have edges, making for a more lifelike typing experience.
Other potential applications for the technology include displaying Braille on a tablet for the blind.
What sort of effect this might have on battery life isn’t an issue being discussed at the moment, but we’re presuming that it won’t be much of a drain.
Senseg’s feely touchscreens could be ready to roll in 2012, although it’s more likely it’ll be 2013 before devices start to appear on the market. The technology is scalable, so will be equally suitable for smartphones and full-size 10 inch tablets.
Something for the iPad 4, perhaps?