IITM develops touchscreen technology that lets you feel textures of images

IITM develops touchscreen technology that lets you feel textures of images

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Vishu
Vishu Verma
Assistant Manager
New Delhi, Updated on Oct 17, 2022 17:25 IST

The technology called ‘iTad’ has no moving parts,rather it has an in-built multi-touch sensor that detects movement of the finger on the screen while the software adjusts the surface friction. 

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has developed new touchscreen technology called the ‘iTad’ (interactive touch active display) through which users can feel textures such as as crisp edges, switches, smooth and gritty from images as the finger moves across the screen.  

M Manivannan, department of applied mechanics, IIT Madras, led the research. Merkel Haptics, a start-up incubated at IIT Madras Research Park, has also been working with Touchlab researchers to take this technology forward.  

Sensor that detects finger movement on screen  

The iTad has no moving parts, it has an in-built multi-touch sensor that detects movement of the finger on the screen while the software adjusts the surface friction. Through a physical phenomenon called ‘electroadhesion’, the software controls the electric fields and modulates friction locally as the fingers travel across a smooth plane.  

Key applications of ‘iTad’  

The key applications of this technology include automotive, consumer electronics, digital signage, home automation, medical, industrial and gaming, and an aid for visually challenged among multiple areas.  

iTad’s touch-enabled surfaces can both receive touch input and provide touch feedback. Currently, touch feedback is only limited to ‘vibrotactile, vibrations that users feel on mobile phones. A resonating voice coil is used in devices to give smartphones a buzz of alerts and conformations. iTad on the other hand is a fully integrated solution with a single controller and solid-state actuator. 

Textures and haptic effects, on particularly big and curved displays, can be harmonised across size, shape and surface. iTad is a solution with multiple applications. Every texture effect created through iTad can be felt with the swipe of a finger. 

Explaining how ‘iTad’ differs from contemporary technologies, Manivannan said: “Currently computer touchscreens can only sense your position of your fingers on the screen, but offers no feedback. When we add feedback, the interaction with computers becomes experiential. iTadcombines multi-touch sensing with haptics on the same layer.” 

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Vishu Verma
Assistant Manager

Vishu is a writer, an artist, a cat and an ardent music lover. She loves to read, sketch and explore new places in her leisure time. She has nine years of experience in print media.

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