Little fold-up tactile joystick brings haptics to portable devices

The sense of touch to mobile devices, drones.

Foldaway Touch, a haptic button for virtual reality joysticks
Foldaway Touch, a haptic button for virtual reality joysticks

A startup Foldaway Haptics along with EPFL scientists have developed a pocket-sized, tactile joystick that gives the sense of touch to mobile devices, drones and, in a smaller version, to virtual reality controls. This tactile joystick can be set up and put away in the blink of an eye.

Once a user connects it to the computer, it will add another dimension to the applications they run. Haptic-feedback frameworks, which are utilized for the most part of the game, hit the market a couple of years back, however, had up to this point disappoint clients. They were simply not exceptionally practical in the way they reenacted a crash by vibrating or imitated speeding up by expanding the sentiment protection.

Marco Salerno, the co-founder of Foldaway Haptics said, “Systems offering more refined tactile force feedback have come out recently. But they are bulky, hard to carry around and very expensive. In case of this device, it offers a very similar experience to that of the newer systems but is easy to stow in a laptop bag or even in your pocket.”

The device composed of a small magnet through which it opens up into a joystick with an upward flick of the wrist. It goes from flat– under two millimeters thick – to three dimensions within a very little time span. It is steady and strong on account of its origami-like collapsing system and the composite materials used to make it. Whenever shut, it is flat to the point that you may ponder where the sensors and engines are. It took quite a while of research in the Reconfigurable Robotics Laboratory for the scientists to defeat various specialized difficulties.

The little robot’s driving component is how it is fabricated, through a blend of thin layers of different materials officially cut into the shape required for the collapsing instrument to work. Since get together is mechanized, it will be anything but difficult to mass-deliver.

Stefano Mintchev, the other co-founder of the startup said, “The fact that no manual action is required keeps manufacturing costs relatively low.”

Next week it will be showcased at the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade fair for industrial technology. This little robot joystick, which clearly punches above its weight, has already been presented at a number of specialized trade shows. From 23 to 27 April, visitors at the Hannover Messe – the leading industrial technology trade show in the world – will be able to give it a try.

The layer-by-layer manufacturing process means that the system can be configured in different sizes and shapes. The company used the same model to develop a retractable device that can be placed on VR joysticks. It’s called Foldaway Touch and lets users handle a virtual object and feel its shape and texture with their thumb. The company won the Best Demonstration Award for the Foldaway Touch at the IEEE Haptics Symposium in March 2018.