Büttner briefly mentioned other projects outside gaming, in the medical and the automotive fields (possibly embedded in the seat and the steering wheel). Smaller haptic engines could also find their place in tablets and smartphones, the CEO hopes.
“Our actuators feel different when integrated into lightweight devices, it may not be so much for recreating music but to add texture to user interfaces” he said. “The industry is still using the same vibration actuators since the 1994 Motorola pager and we notice how UI designers are frustrated with what’s available on the market”.
Now, piezoelectric actuators are promising too, but the CEO doesn’t see Lofelt as competing against other haptic solutions. “We have a very strong software focus, and technically, our software could drive piezo or electroactive polymers. The advantage of our voice-coil actuator is that it doesn’t require a high voltage”.
“What we have learned so far is that designing for high-fidelity haptics requires going far beyond simply manufacturing haptic actuators. It requires expertise and deep understanding of haptic perception, audio technology, hardware and software development, and physics – as well as rigorous user experience testing.”
“After a few years of improvement to increase power efficiency and power density, other companies may find ways to develop their own high-fidelity haptic actuators”, admits Büttner. But he sees this as a natural evolution in the good direction, as it will take more than one company to push high-fidelity haptics to the mass market.
Lofelt is now commercializing a modular evaluation kit that takes any standard stereo audio input and converts it to a rich haptic signal in real time, used to drive the actuator included in the kit.
Lofelt - https://lofelt.com