Today, I had a very short meeting with Michael Levin, vice president and general manager of Immersion Corporation. Immersion is the company behind the tactile sensitivity controls in many simulators, the Sidewinder joystick from Microsoft, the BMW I-drive system, and systems in the Mercedes S class, Rolls Royce and some models of VW.
Levin showed me a touch screen enhanced with tactile sensitivity. It is amazing, and very hard to describe, how the addition of simple or complex tactile messages vastly improves the user interface of a touch screen. He showed me a PDA, a cellphone, and a rotary encoder that had been likewise touch enabled. The academics call this “haptics” from the Greek “to touch” but Levin prefers to use the term “tactile feedback.” He says, “There aren’t enough people who speak Ancient Greek anymore.”
Immersion is not making touch screens. They want to license their technology and engineering design services to the automation vendors who DO make touchscreens.
Consider this a work wanted advertisement. I can imagine this spreading like wildfire among the manufacturers of touchscreens. This is great stuff that will improve the safety, operation and performance of any field level device’s touchscreen. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.