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Samsung gets touchy-feely with Immersion haptics tech

The Korean electronics giant has signed a multiyear licensing agreement to use Immersion's touch-feedback technology in its mobile devices.

Followups to the Galaxy S3 could have better haptics technology. Sarah Tew/CNET
Samsung is getting more touchy-feely with Immersion.

The Korean electronics giant has signed a multiyear licensing agreement with Immersion for its haptics products, giving Samsung access to new technology for its various mobile devices.

Haptics technology is built into devices to create tactile feedback or vibrations so a user actually feels something when touching the screen of a mobile device. For example, Immersion software combined with "actuators," such as motors, allows sensations like the feel of a button click when pressing a virtual button. It makes the product feel more real and can improve the user experience, particularly for people not used to touch screens.

Samsung already uses Immersion haptics technology in various products, including the Galaxy S3 smartphone and the Galaxy Note. It's pretty likely the Galaxy S4, which will be unveiled next week in New York, will include some sort of haptics technology as well.

The last technology licensing agreement between Samsung and Immersion had recently expired, a spokesman for Immersion told CNET, so the new, multiyear pact includes previously licensed technology.

The specific license agreement announced today involves Immersion's Integrator product, which is a tool for device vendors that "fundamentally changes how a user experiences haptics." It enables ambient tactile feedback that sits in the background and provides information to the user in multimedia environments such as gaming and video. Integrator works in conjunction with Immersion's TouchSense product, which Samsung has also licensed.

Along with those two products, Immersion said the agreement includes a patent license covering Samsung's prior and future use of simple forms of haptics effects, sometimes referred to as Basic Haptics, in its smartphones and other mobile devices.

Because of the pact with Samsung, Immersion raised its projections for 2013 revenue.

We've contacted Samsung for more details and will update the report when we hear back.

Updated at 9:20 a.m. PT with details from Immersion about its previous pact with Samsung.