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Congress


you in a rather subtle way. We call it ambient awareness, it’s almost in the background.”


End of the poke screen However, an altogether more unexpected touch technology was shown by a Finnish developer, Senseg. “I want you to really play with this”, says chief technology offi cer Ville Mäkinen enthusiastically, handing over a tab- let computer. “Briefl y, what we have is some- thing that started out around 2007 as a natu- ral, new phenomenon – and then we made the fi rst demo the size of a microwave oven, and we said, ‘T is might be really cool with a mobile phone’. “And now we’re production ready, look-


Dennis Sheehan, of the haptics specialist Immersion, with an on-screen maraca which you can shake, hear and feel too


nology from the haptics developer Immersion is now in some 400 million phones from Sam- sung and Nokia and LG. Now the company is working on enhancing the technology to make for a better user experience based on touch. Last month, it introduced a new developer


tool called HD Integrator to allow “touch sense” to be integrated more deeply into the Android user interface. To demonstrate what this can do, Dennis


Sheehan puts forward a mobile phone dis- playing a maraca on the screen. Shaking it, the vibration of the instrument can be felt in the hand. “It’s dynamic, meaning the haptics are actually changing in real time to match your gesture, creating a level of realism that hasn’t been possible before”, he explains.


Rapid response For the new high-defi nition haptics, a piezo- electric actuator is employed, and its very fast response time allows the creation of more re- alistic, dynamic eff ects. Other demonstrations by Immersion included a cowbell and a sing- ing bowl. “If you get your fi nger going round fast enough, it will sing”, Mr Sheehan says. “But you might ask, ‘OK, I’m not really


using a maraca all that often – why is this relevant?’ We think it’s really interesting, the capability to use haptics in ways that have been impossible before to communicate infor- mation to the user, using this haptic channel or touch channel.” One example, he suggests, could lie in your


email inbox. A special haptics signal could dis- tinguish messages from your boss for imme- diate attention. “If you are scrolling through the list, you should notice that it is distinctly diff erent”, he says. “It’s communicating with


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Ville Mäkinen, with a screen of virtual surfaces to stroke. “Please go ahead and try”, he urges. “There is no other way!”


ing forward to coming out in markets, the beginning of 2013, and we are going to revo- lutionize touch screens!” He continues: “Touch screens are actually


poke screens – you poke them – whereas we make something where there is feel, so you can use the sense of touch to explore, to fi nd out what’s on the screen, really like natural tactile interaction.” Mr Mäkinen distinguishes his invention


from traditional haptics, where the entire device shakes. “If your phone vibrates, that’s a good cue to know that it’s ringing – vibra- tion is a natural alarm signal. T e problem is it’s something you have to pay attention to but it’s not the way that you explore the world. T ings don’t vibrate in response to you touching them, normally. What is normal is you feel contours, you explore with your hand, and that is exactly what we do with this technology.”


The Fieldsense personal RF monitor, in the version for RF workers: calibrated to ICNIRP guidelines, it sounds a loud alarm where there is a danger of overexposure


Pocket RF safety monitoring device


C


omplex and often bulky test equipment is an indispensable part of mobile commu-


nications, but a South African company called EMSS Consulting showed a pocket-sized RF safety monitor which anyone can use. The Fieldsense personal monitor is made in versions for RF workers, to enable them to avoid areas where they would be at risk of overexposure, and for site owners, to help them protect contractors and maintenance workers.


“It gives you an LED indication of the


exposure, measuring from 380 MHz up to 2·7 GHz, the majority of the common cel- lular bands”, explained Marnus van Wyk. “It doesn’t cover FM, it doesn’t go down very low, to AM installations. For that there are more comprehensive devices available. We also help regulators and operators to es- tablish RF safety programmes to ensure that their base stations are installed correctly.”


On the smooth glass of the tablet display,


it’s astonishing to fi nd that the ribbed surface and the gaps between the tiles can be felt quite distinctly, as can the friction of the carpet. “It’s based on an electrostatic phenom-


enon”, Mr Mäkinen explains. “It’s pretty amazing that our fi ngers are sensitive enough to detect small forces due to electrostatics, so we do have almost a sixth sense which we are exploiting here. “We exploit the existing layers on the de- vice, create a charge there, and that charge


LAND mobile March 2012


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