Touchscreens are becoming increasingly popular on devices ranging from smartphones to all-in-one desktops. Current touchscreens don't offer much in the way of tactile feedback, but that could change thanks to E-Sense technology developed by Senseg and Toshiba. E-Sense runs current through surface-mounted electrodes to simulate texture, pressure, and pin pricks. This "electrotactile" array can be embedded in LCD screens, touchpads, and even curved surfaces, according to robotics news portal Hizook. A video of an E-Sense prototype in action is embedded below.
Electrotactile feedback has loads of potential for smartphones and slates. It should also be a nice addition to standard notebook touchpads, and I can see mice and game controllers wanting to get in on the action. Being able to apply the electrotactile film to a variety of flat and curved surfaces certainly leaves the door open for all sorts of interesting implementations, especially if the technology does a good job of simulating various textures. Toshiba plans to release an SDK for developers, as well.
It's unclear how long it will take for E-Sense to transition from prototype to actual products. I suspect we'll see it first deployed on smartphones and slates, but PC implementations might not be far behind. Thanks to Slashdot for the tip.