NEC and Tokyo Institute of Technology Demo Tactile Touchscreen Concept

Haptics is one of the next big advances for touchscreen technology, and while there are always new ideas for tactile technology coming down the pike, the field is still wide open to innovation.

NEC and the Tokyo Institute of Technology partnered up on an interesting concept that utilizes directional force to shift the whole touchscreen to give the user some tactile feedback. It’s actually sort of a primitive idea in some ways; there are four wires, each attached to a corner of the screen and operated by tiny motors, and they respond to input gathered by optical sensors in the bezel.

What this technology does is provide a directional sensation, and because the tensile strength of the wires is adjustable, the feeling of different levels of force.

It’s an interesting take on haptics, but it clearly has a ways to go. For example, in the video, you’ll note that the mechanisms are quite loud, and the screen is fairly large--adequate for a tablet perhaps, but definitely not a smartphone.

In any case, hats off to these innovative fellows. Maybe we’ll see a version of this technology in our touchscreen devices someday.