Fujitsu likes to show off the future of its technology by displaying the cutting edge developments - not due out anytime soon - at Mobile World Congress. We stopped by to see its latest ultrasonic haptic feedback technology that was unveiled today at the show. Could it compete with Microsoft's example?
Touch to feel
The tablet on display was built to create a sensation of feeling by simply touching the normal-looking screen of the slate. The technology uses ultrasonic vibrations to create the sensation of bumps, edges, ridges, protrusions and more. This is done by creating areas of high and low friction along the lines of the image. While the feeling isn't real it does a good job of tricking your hand. It has huge potential for another level of depth that can be added to the haptic feedback experience.
When we first tried the demo it was for sand. The feel was like repetitive haptic vibrations with the accompanying noise. But before we could feel disappointed we tried the violin strings - it was uncanny.
Next we tried a safe with a clicking twist lock. As the lock turned on the safe image, every click felt like it was on a real lock. Stroking a crocodile did feel like ridges but to say it felt like the real thing would be a stretch.
While these can't really be called texturised feelings this technology does enhance haptic feedback which could prove useful in the future. Imagine 3D modelling a design and being able to feel the ribs, edges or undulations. One day our hands-on review could, potentially, include 3D models which users can touch to "feel".
For the future
While right now the technology is still in its infancy there is potential for the future. Fujitsu said that this could be coming to the market one day but that it was far too early to say when. We'd like to see it in a tablet but if Fujitsu is holding on to the patents we might not see it in a tablet in the UK for some time.