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Immersion unveils new touch-screen haptics processor

New haptic processors from Immersion is now available and used in Toshiba's Libretto W100 computer.

The Toshiba  Libretto W100 is the first computer that uses Immersion's Haptic Technology to enhance user input.
The Toshiba Libretto W100 is the first computer that uses Immersion's Haptics Technology to enhance users' input. Toshiba

Most onscreen keyboards, like those in the iPhone or other smartphones, have no tactile feedback, so you need to look at the screen and the virtual keyboard to make sure of the correct input. However, this might soon change, thanks to haptic technology, a mechanism that allows the screen to "touch" you back.

One of the major developers of this technology, the Immersion Corporation, announced Tuesday a new product that powers touch-feedback effects in touch-screen computers, the TouchSense 2500. The company claims that this product enables drop-in integrated circuit solutions to drive haptic effects that bring the user experience in touch-based devices to a new level by restoring the "mechanical" feel to otherwise static screens.

According to Immersion, the TouchSense 2500 solution supports integrated and advanced user interface and touch-gesture-based interactions, and supports both Windows and Android operating systems. The company says it's a good fit for tablet PCs, notebooks, Netbooks, ultraportable devices, and smartphones.

The TouchSense 2500 is currently available as an off-the-shelf haptic processor, and it can also be ported to a device manufacturer's specific chip to add haptic feedback to its solution.

Immersion says that the first device on the market that uses its haptic technology is the Toshiba Libretto W100, the world's first dual-touch-screen Windows mini notebook PC.

The 1.5 pound, 7-inch, Windows 7-based Libretto W100 features two multitouch screens that can work independently or together. Its user interface design includes six virtual keyboard modes and a virtual touch pad that leverages Immersion's haptic technology to provide touch feedback when keys are selected.