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Press release

HiWave’s haptic touch panels deliver tactile feedback for improved user interaction with aerospace electronic systems

Complete hardware and software platform enhances safety, reduces cost, and increases robustness in cockpit and passenger entertainment systems

Cambridge, UK, July 9, 2012: HiWave Technologies (LSE:HIW), the provider of electronic devices that deliver innovative sound and touch technologies to user interfaces on electronic display systems, announces the launch of a haptics (touch feedback) platform for control panels and touch displays in aerospace applications. The integrated hardware/software platform enables systems designers to replace conventional mechanical buttons with touch switches and brings haptic feedback to panels and displays so that users perceive the positive experience of mechanical movement, even though none is present.

For cockpit electronic systems, HiWave’s Bending Wave touch/haptics provide greatly improved user feedback and safety than existing touch controls. The company’s force-related haptics enable touch detection and tactile sensation from non-moving touch switch arrays, even with gloved hands. As no mechanical movement is present there is no physical wear, reducing maintenance costs. HOTAS (Hands On Stick And Throttle) functions can be contextually mapped onto sensor arrays, and MHDDs (Multi Function Head Down Displays) can have full multi-level touch and gesture recognition with 3D haptic response. Passenger aircraft in-flight entertainment systems benefit similarly from this patented haptic technology.

The evaluation platform incorporates HiWave’s HIHXC14C02-8 or HIHXC09C005-8 haptic actuators, which attach to the touch interface panel or switch array, and a HiWave haptic controller integrated circuit which resolves touch input and delivers the haptic signals to the actuators.

HiWave’s Bending Wave actuators create waveforms across the touch panel or switch to create any of a range of switch sensations such as the feel of a mechanical switch or button. Additionally, if desired, audio cues can be simultaneously overlaid. A significant benefit of HiWave’s combined touch and Bending Wave Haptics is that the panel can be robustly constructed with no moving or separate parts that would be the case with traditional buttons and switches. No physical movement is necessary as bending waves create the tactile sensation locally in the touch panel. This reduces cost, increases ruggedness and product lifetime. As with HiWave’s other haptic platforms, this is achieved with a high level of mechanical efficiency by HiWave’s patented inertial exciters, resulting in crisp tactile sensation with low power consumption.

HiWave’s algorithms processed in its haptic control chip enable feedback responses to be defined by the designer and implemented by HiWave to replicate a wide range of button or key-press press sensations, or textures to convey information to the user. HiWave’s bending wave technology is the only solution that delivers true wideband haptics for the richest tactile sensation, as well up to 15kHz for audio playback. A range of audio feedbacks – from simple pings and clicks to mp3 files containing spoken instructions and music - can also be delivered without additional speakers by using the touch panel as the sound emitter.

James Lewis, CEO of HiWave said:
“Aerospace and defence is an important market, recognising and adopting the very best solutions for user interface to enhance operational effectiveness and flight safety. But the in-flight entertainment systems in passenger jets also need easy to use robust touch and haptic user interface to give passengers the easiest access to information and entertainment, and save cost caused by system failures. Our haptics and touch solutions bring clear advantages in this environment.”

HiWave continues to patent its haptics and touch technology breakthroughs, and will demonstrate its solutions to major aerospace and defence companies at the Farnborough International Airshow, 9-15 July.