Boréas replaces smartphone buttons with haptics

January 09, 2019 //By Julien Happich
Boréas replaces smartphone buttons with haptics
In order to promote its ultra-low-power piezoelectric (piezo) drivers, haptics provider Boréas Technologies is demonstrating a buttonless smartphone at CES, replacing the smartphone’s mechanical volume and power buttons with two piezo actuators next to the frame.

The actuators are driven by the BOS1901 piezoelectric driver IC to create high definition haptic feedback effects which the company says delivers more sophisticated tactile feedback than today's push-button user interfaces. “Even today’s highest-end smartphones have just one haptic engine that shakes the whole phone when you push a button", explains Simon Chaput, founder and CEO, Boréas Technologies, referring to eccentric rotating mass actuators.

"This rudimentary implementation gates designers’ ability to improve the phone’s user interface” the CEO says. “SmartClik, on the other hand, uses Boréas’ piezo chip technology to transform haptic-feedback design. Each ‘piezo button’ becomes a localized haptic engine that supports area-specific tactile effects. Because it is software-programmable, SmartClik gives UI designers more versatility. Designers can customize localized haptic feedback for different applications, making gameplay and taking photos feel more realistic.

“SmartClik technology is also highly power-efficient,” added Chaput. “It’s the first technology platform that meets the requirements of buttonless smartphones without draining the battery. It actually saves 10X power over competitive piezoelectric haptic feedback solutions while enabling true HD touch.”

Dubbed SmartClik, the buttonless proof-of-concept smartphone design demonstrated by Boréas supports the customization of button “feel” in software, allowing designers to change button usage from application to application to create a multi-purpose user interface for many different use cases.

Operating both ways, the company says that the SmartClik’s piezo actuators are sensitive enough to detect pressure right through the phone’s frame. This enables better industrial design in end devices, supporting a unibody of stainless steel, aluminium or glass with the piezo actuators hidden under the frame.

www.boreas.ca


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