January 18, 2007 Relevant feedback from an intelligent device is very important to the feel of that device, how you relate to it and how efficiently you use it. Immersion Corporation is the company that has enabled touch feedback technology to dominate video game interfaces and now we warrant, it’s set to do the same for mobile phones. The new Samsung SCH-W559 phone is the first to use Immersion's VibeTonz System to provide tactile feedback in response to touchscreen presses. VibeTonz offers a broad range of touch feedback effects to make user interface features, applications, and multimedia content more intuitive and engaging. For example, virtual onscreen buttons feel more like mechanical keys, and the phone’s full-fidelity, vibe-enhanced ringtones are help identify callers in noisy environments. So compelling and useful is the vibration feedback system that global research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics believes that “market conditions are almost ripe for an explosion in touchscreen phones”, and “by 2012, 40% of mobile phones could be using some form of touch sensitive technology.
The SCH-W559 uses a large 260,000-color QVGA LCD touchscreen display to replace the traditional mechanical keypad as the primary input mechanism. Users receive confirming tactile cues when they press graphical onscreen controls, and they can customize the response by selecting one of five feedback profiles for these cues.
Immersion’s VibeTonz System allows touchscreen-displayed buttons to feel more like mechanical keys. VibeTonz tactile feedback can also help improve usability in situations where controls are obscured by fingers or washed out by glare.
“We believe that market conditions are almost ripe for an explosion in touchscreen phones, and that by 2012 as many as 40% of mobile phones could be using some form of touch sensitive technology,” said Stuart Robinson, director of the Handset Component Technologies service at global research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics.
The new phone is being sold by China Unicom, the third largest mobile operator in the world with 135 million subscribers. Designed to roam globally by working on both CDMA and GSM networks, the SCH-W559 includes handwriting recognition, Bluetooth technology, 1.3 megapixel camera, and audio and video playback functions. VibeTonz capabilities in the phone also provide full-fidelity vibration tracks synchronized with eight preloaded ringtones. Vibe-enhanced ringtones enable personalization and add an element of fun to phone use and can help identify callers in noisy environments.
“Implementing keypad functions in a touchscreen has allowed Samsung to give its customers a first-class multimedia and messaging experience in a remarkably light and slim handset,” said Hunbae Kim, Samsung vice president. “As the first to integrate VibeTonz technology for touchscreens, we’re giving users the reassuring sense of interacting with a real keypad, supplying gentle touch feedback that unmistakably confirms each of their actions. As far as advanced mobile interfaces go, it offers the best of both worlds.”
“Our VibeTonz System can provide mobile device manufacturers with an inexpensive enhancement to touchscreen operation,” explains Immersion CEO Vic Viegas. “It also provides a platform for a wide range of additional features that can add fun, engagement, and improved usability to mobile devices.”
Since the first VibeTonz-enhanced phone was introduced in April 2005, VibeTonz applications for mobile devices have multiplied. VibeTonz tactile feedback for mobile device touchscreens, announced in June 2006, is only the latest application. Mobile games are more fun and exciting with touch feedback similar to that found in console games. Tactile cues for user interface features, like call dropped, key press, and ringing and busy signals can make phone operation easier and more intuitive. VibeTonz effects accompanying ringtones or music are like turning up the subwoofers. And VibeTonz alerts that can vary from a reverberating gong effect to a subtle tapping can be more discernible and memorable. An enabling platform, the VibeTonz System opens possibilities for a fuller, more multisensory user experience -- for example, for a loved one’s message to arrive feeling like a beating heart or for a movie trailer to draw you into the exciting motorcycle chase by letting you feel engine acceleration.
About the VibeTonz System
The field-proven VibeTonz System, comprised of VibeTonz Mobile Player and VibeTonz SDK, delivers a broad range of touch feedback effects to make user interface features, applications, and downloadable, multimedia content more intuitive and engaging. Embedded in mobile devices, VibeTonz Mobile Player exerts precise, high-speed control over the vibration actuator to produce tactile effects with unprecedented subtlety and dynamics. VibeTonz SDK provides cross-platform APIs and a suite of authoring tools for making development and customization of touch feedback effects fast and easy.
Founded in 1993, Immersion Corporation is a recognized leader in developing, licensing, and marketing digital touch technology and products. Using Immersion’s advanced touch feedback technology (http://www.immersion.com/corporate/products/), electronic user interfaces can be made more productive, compelling, entertaining, or safer. Immersion’s technology is deployed across automotive, entertainment, industrial controls, medical training, mobility, and three-dimensional simulation markets. Immersion’s patent portfolio includes over 600 issued or pending patents in the U.S. and other countries.