Mobile Haptics
November 29th, 2004
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Mark Frauenfelder writes on the cellphone industries foray into the world of Haptics:
“…Immersion…has its sights set on mobile phones. Immersion’s VibeTonz is a development platform that uses a phone’s ordinary vibrate motor to enhance navigation, ringtones, chat and games. For instance, developers can use VibeTonz to make each item on a scrolling list click distinctively. Or they can add “kisses,” “slaps,” and “purrs” to chat emoticons. Or they can make the phone buzz and pulse along to the melody of a ringtone. The only thing that a phone manufacturer needs to add to its phone is a ten-cent amplifier, which enables the vibrator to buzz in a variety of ways. Samsung has announced that it will be the first to offer a VibeTonz phone later this year…VibeTonz is only the first step into a world of touch-enhanced mobilty. In research labs around the world, scientists are looking into ways that will change the way you feel — and feel about — mobiles. At Nokia Research, Jukka Linjama and Topi Kaaresoja added a small acceleration sensor to a phone to create a Pong-like game that a user controls by tapping the phone either horizontally or vertically. The user gets feedback from different vibration patterns. In a paper presented at the NordiCHI human-computer interaction conference, they wrote that the synchronized combination of graphics and vibrations “creates a kind of a kinesthetic illusion of a soft ball being tapped and bouncing inside the device. In informal evaluations most users rated this illusion very natural, impressive, and enjoyable…”

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