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Nokia Touchscreen Creates Texture Illusion

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Nokia has developed a prototype of its N900 smartphone featuring technology that lets users feel the texture of icons on the screen. "The idea is to have everything on a touchscreen give tactile feedback," says Nokia researcher Piers Andrew.

The technology is based on the electrovibration effect, in which the feeling of touch is simulated using a metal surface carrying an alternating voltage. Nokia placed a layer of indium oxide next to a layer of hafnium oxide to create the electrovibration effect. Andrew says the technology is a work in progress, and acknowledges that it "is not necessarily the most attractive sensation for some people."

Other research groups are exploring similar ideas, and Toshiba is developing electrostatic displays. "Tactile feedback is the most glaringly omitted dimension in touchscreen devices like the Apple iPhone or iPad," says McGill University's Yon Visell. "The device can feel what we're touching, but we can't."

From New Scientist
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