Immersion mobile research in the Wall Street Journal

The use of haptics in mobile phones is still in its infancy, with Samsung Electronics Co. leading the way. Its Omnia phone, for example, vibrates to confirm each touch of the screen, and a vibration that shudders to a stop indicates that a call has been dropped.

But the wider deployment of haptic-enabled phones will open the door to new applications.

[Immersion] says that in the next nine months three mobile carriers will be launching applications it created that allow users to communicate emotions nonverbally. For example, frustration can be communicated by shaking the phone, which will create a vibration that will be felt by the other party. That person might then choose to respond with what the developers call a “love tap”, a rhythmic tapping on the phone that will produce a heartbeat-like series of vibrations on the other party’s phone.

Immersion’s general manager of touch business, Craig Vachon, says the next step is developing a phone that can deliver a physical sensation based on the position of a finger on a touch screen. One application would be a touch-screen keyboard that feels like a traditional keyboard…

“The technology is such that we could blindfold you and you would be able to feel the demarcation between the keys of a keypad, on a completely flat touch screen,” Mr. Vachon says.

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