Novasentis CEO introduces their flexible, thin, light, multi output haptic technology, here demonstrating how it may be used to enhanse sensing for AR/VR applications where you already have video and audio, and the haptic feedback that can be customized for each finger and programmed so that you can get a variety of "sensations", smart variable haptic frequencies can emulate the feeling of touching different materials in the AR/VR world. Francois did not name his customers but they are working with companies that are making AR/VR devices, gaming controllers and wearable devices. I have previously video blogged about the flexible wearable devices and they are making further progress with that application also where the haptic actuators are embedded into the smart watch strap. I can think of many more applications for this technology including smart clothing. Watch my channel to hear latest updates about Novasentis that is the only company that has this type of technology.
Haptic feedback is one of the most important features of Smartwatches and other wearable devices. The Apple watch with its Taptic engine has one of the best haptic actuators in the industry but at the IDTechEx show, the folks at Novasentis were showing technology that aims to do much better. With traditional haptic technologies like LRA and ERM, they are bulky and provide just a solitary, universal buzz which vibrates the entire wearable device. Novasentis has invented a new technology based on electro mechanical polymers which is ultra thin, when they placed this in my hand, I could barely feel its weight, and the material is flexible. So instead of putting a big haptic device in the body of the wearable device, Novasentis proposes that you embed their haptic film right into the strap of the watch since is is so thin and you could have localized vibration and detect the all important patterns all around the wrist to understand different notification categories without even looking at your smartwatch display. This will enable thinner and lighter smartwatches without a big haptic engine inside. Most importantly, Novasentis material allows to offer a range of haptic feedback from very low frequency ‘taps’ to very high frequency audible ‘alarms’. Their idea is to create a haptic language and a wearable device could have as many as 10 or even 100 different haptic ‘feelings’ that a user can get used to and memorize and could get very useful information before having to turn to the display. Novasentis said that 5 OEM’s are currently designing wearable devices with their material and the company is currently raising funds to get their technology into mass production hopefully arriving soon to awesome Smartwatches and other smart device.
I met Novasentis in the Silicon Valley, they showed me their ultra thin keyboard powered by their actuators with actual haptic feedback, and its not just sensory but also audible and they can customize both the feeling and the sounds. They refer to their space as the Neo-Sensory Age and they are leading the market in creating actuators that are a fraction of the size of todays incumbent devices. I picked up one of their actual devices, it was thin like paper, weightless, yet the performance was very good because they are not vibrating the entire keyboard or the entire phone, they can localize the vibrations which makes for a better human interface. The products are made from Electro-mechanical Polymer (EMP) technology. This material is comprised of randomly aligned molecules that align in one direction and elongate when electricity is applied. When the EMP material is bonded to a substrate/keyboard, the result is an actuator which provides high definition haptics, audio, or physical morphing feedback yet thinner than a human hair. Novasentis is focused on providing ultra-thin haptic keyboards for the consumer electronics space, but is a platform technology with a variety of innovative uses in industries including mobile devices, wearable, automotive and medical industries. The material is thin, light, flexible and can be the leading contender in the future as major OEMs launch flexible and wearable devices.
Belenos Clean Power, a subsidiary of Swatch Group, has developed a new type of battery based on vanadium, with electrical energy storage capacity up to 50 to 100% higher capacity than the battery technologies that exist today. Electric cars and drones might start using Belenos batteries starting this year already, production of Belenos batteries will start this Summer by Swatch Group subsidiary Renata in Switzerland, further Belenos batteries may also get produced in Asia depending on the demand. George Clooney and the Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier are on Belenos's board of directors, Belenos is 51% owned by Swatch Group and will be put on the Hong Kong stock market with a possible valuation between 5 and 20 Billion dollars. The goal is to power Swatch Smartwatches and other wearables with the Belenos battery, creating a Smartwatch and wearable technologies that never needs to be recharged.
As a half-Swiss, I hope Swatch will release smart watches to put Apple Watch to shame, made in a really smart way, with Swatch's own ultra low power displays or with E Ink behind the dials of a Swatch Sistem51 based automatic watch, and with low power Bluetooth and Novasentis flexible actuator vibrations in the wrist band. Part of the watch may function as energy harvester, perhaps solar on the watch casing/sides, to recharge the Bluetooth low energy and E Ink or other low power display.