TDK Electronics, a subsidiary of TDK Corporation, recently announced that they had signed an agreement with Boréas Technologies Inc., a developer of ultra-low-power haptic solutions. This move should accelerate the adoption of piezoelectric haptic solutions.
Under the cooperation agreement between TDK and Boréas, the two partners will jointly research, design, manufacture, and send to market advanced touch response products that use TDK's proprietary PowerHap™ and PiezoHapt™ haptic feedback actuators combined with Boréas' proprietary piezo haptic driver technology.
Boréas Technologies Inc., founded in 2016, is a fabless semiconductor company that commercialises product-differentiating piezo driver integrated circuits for piezo actuators.
The company's proprietary CapDrive™ technology platform is ideal for resource-constrained devices that require low power consumption such as wearables, IoT devices, and smartphones.
What is Piezo?
Currently, there are three 'mainstream' haptic technologies: ERM, LRA, and piezoelectric.
While the former two are fantastic tech solutions, only the latter, piezoelectric, has the mechanics and better performing actuators necessary to deliver high-definition haptics that makes full use of human senses.
Image courtesy of Boréas Technologies Inc.
Piezo actuators have now been around now for several years. Despite this, ERM and LRA still remain the market's leading haptic solutions. This is partly due to the high levels of power consumption that piezo actuators have: they dissipate a lot of heat—something that is not ideal for electronic devices where space and power are very limited.
This was the main reason behind a low adoption rate of the piezoelectric haptic technology; power consumption was negating all the performance benefits delivered by the better actuator.
Or, at least, that was the case until two recent events.
December 2018: Piezo Becomes the Most Power-efficient Haptic Solution
Using their own CapDrive™ technology, Boréas made their piezoelectric architecture both scalable and power efficient. When compared to the original Boréas piezo driver and legacy ERM and LRA technologies, the power savings can be up to 20 times more.
Image courtesy of Boréas Technologies Inc.
The BOS1901 piezo driver, designed from the ground up for low-power applications and based on CapDrive™ technology, is the perfect solution for mobile devices or other applications where low power efficiency is the goal or a major factor.
May 2018: TDK and Boréas Collaborate
Speaking on the subject of their collaboration with TDK, Boréas Technologies founder and CEO, Simon Chaput, said:
“Collaborating with TDK enables us to access their extensive sales and marketing network to accelerate the adoption of piezo haptics globally. Furthermore, this cooperation will enable faster time to market for our customers by reducing the amount of engineering required to implement a piezo haptic solution using Boréas’ driver ICs with TDK’s piezo actuators.”
As part of this agreement, TDK and Boréas will focus on the development of demonstrators for haptic effects and drivers for high-definition piezo haptic systems.
The thought is that this will allow customers and clients to implement much more advanced haptic solutions within a broad range of low power applications using the finest actuators available. Potential applications not only include smartphones and tablets but wearables, IoT devices, medical devices, industrial equipment, displays, controls, and many, many more.
Despite the broad spectrum of potential applications, TDK and Boréas will focus significantly on mobile applications. As mentioned earlier, piezo haptic solutions have had little luck in being used in mobile ecosystems due to the high-power draw and heat dissipation they once had.
Tearing Down the Barriers
This valuable partnership between TDK and Boréas represents a huge leap forward in piezo haptics.
The solutions developed by TDK and Boréas are expected to tear down the barriers that once existed between piezo haptic technology and its adoption in low power applications. It is anticipated that this collaboration will lead to the next generation in haptics in consumer devices and user interfaces.
For more information on haptic technology, read up on EP's product piece on how tactile feedback wearables 'HaptX Gloves' are bringing a sense of touch to the virtual reality sphere.