[Blindmath] Tactile Touchscreen Technology

Ken Perry kperry at blinksoft.com
Fri Feb 1 05:32:49 CST 2013



A co-worker went to CES this year and told me  he talked to the Tactus and
saw a couple of the panels.  It is true that you have to decide in advance
where you want the buttons.  They raise up and down using a jell like glass.
You could not get the resolution with the current technology they are using
for graphics or braille. 

As for the second I have also used a panel that was an example of this
technology.  My personal opinion is it was no better than using an Android
tablet that could vibrate and having it vibrate when you touch a line.  True
it had feeling and you could tell the difference between one type of
resistance pattern and another but not really at a  great resolution as of
yet. 

The good news is there are so many commercial companies working on tactile
touch type devices that I think that it will be before 2015 that we finally
start seeing usable technology on the market.  

Ken
-----Original Message-----
From: Blindmath [mailto:blindmath-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Natalie
Hanisch
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2013 3:24 PM
To: blindmath at nfbnet.org
Subject: [Blindmath] Tactile Touchscreen Technology

Hello everyone,

I've been highly interested for a while in the possibilities of tactile
touchscreens and math education. Recently I did some research and found two
companies who are taking steps in this direction. The first company, Tactus
Technology is based out of Fremont, California, USA. They have been
exploring tactile touch via microfluidics, which as I understand works by
filling fluid in a various part of the screen to create a genuine raised
surface. I highly appreciate the emphasis on adding tactile feedback to
touch devices, but I do have some concern about the limitations of their
product. From what I have observed it appears that they are at a point of
only offering single configurations (so you would only have raised keyboard
buttons, you could't have dynamism of a refreshable Braille display); Note
this is only my observation, I could not find information to confirm
whether or not it is true. I found this company notable though because they
seem to have a good collection of public visibility: videos, newstories,
etc.
http://www.tactustechnology.com/

The other company, which I think is more interesting, but which is a little
less in the public eye is Senseg. This company is about the same size as
Tactus, but it is based in Helsinki, Finland. Their technology uses
electrostatics, which is quite different from microfluidics. Instead of
creating a physical tactile surface, it uses electromagnetic charges to
create feelings of friction. So instead of there actually being a surface
change, it's only the feeling of a surface change. From observing one video
of a prototype I noted that this sort of screen looked highly flexible and
could be used to make any tactile output that was desired. Though Tactus
has been in the news or offering new updates fairly frequently, the last
thing online I've found from Senseg was from June 2012.
http://senseg.com/

I think this has great potential to operate as the electronic version of a
tactile drawing tablet, and it could also open a lot of doors
for accessibility on any surface that uses a screen. I'm imagining computer
monitors that display visual text but simultaneously provide touch
response, simply making computers more flexible for need or preference of
tactile communication (with the device). I'm wondering it anyone else has
heard of these companies or other companies/technologies moving in this
direction, your thoughts about how useful they will be, and what
limitations you might predict there will be with such resources.

Natalie
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