Toshiba have picked up Finnish firm Senseg's haptic feedback system and plan to release commercial products using the technology next year. Senseg's system, unlike mechanical haptic feedback which use vibration to help users identify touchscreen taps, uses an electrical field to stimulate the receptors in the fingertip that would normally feel vibration.
Video demo after the cut
The Senseg layer is flexible and can be fixed to an irregular surface; that means the curved or angular chassis of a device, such as a smartphone, could be fitted out for haptic feedback, rather than just the flat display. Also, since the technology is affecting the fingers' touch receptors directly, it can produce different sensations rather than just vibration: for instance, texture of on-screen materials like wood or leather.
Toshiba's Information Systems department - who have adapted the Senseg film into their own "New Sensation UI Solution" - expect to use it in ereaders, notebooks and cellphones. It shouldn't add too much to the price tag, either; the company says it's expected to cost just $0.10 to $0.20 when in mass production.