More and more sectors are integrating haptics, introducing the sense of touch into technological devices. The deeptech Actronika, which emerged from ISIR, is developing a technology based on a synthesis software that makes it possible to easily integrate tactile feedback into any man-machine interface.
A growing interest in the sense of touch
After hearing and sight, it is the sense of touch that interests technological devices. It is the missing element to allow the user to live a maximum immersion experience. Historically, haptics was reserved for very specific professional fields such as surgical simulation or aircraft assembly. It is only in the last 5 years that the development of touch has been made more accessible to the general public, with technologies that go beyond vibrations,” explains Vincent Hayward, a researcher at ISIR, a specialist in touch and haptics.
From a scientific aspect, it is the interaction with people that allows us to awaken all our senses. After integrating the auditory and visual aspects in technological devices, a survey showed that one sense was missing: touch.
Haptics at the service of many fields of application
One of the first fields of application for the general public is video games, through the haptic sensations found in game controllers, for example. Today, its integration in the gaming field is in constant progress and never ceases to amaze. In addition, a promising field that is growing rapidly is that of Virtual Reality. There are many haptic accessories that allow you to feel what is really happening in the game: jacket, glove, suit, etc.
Haptics is also present in electronic devices for the general public, such as our cell phones through vibro-tactile feedback. Also in the automotive field with the integration of so-called haptic feedback controls, for example a steering wheel with haptic alerts that aim to improve the safety of motorists.
To go further, after the jacket and the gloves with haptic feedback, we can move towards the feet. A European project called H-Reality, for which the deep-tech Actronika is a partner, addresses this theme in particular. This project has contributed to the development of Unitouch ™, an interactive haptic software ecosystem designed to seamlessly integrate interactive haptics into next-generation hardware and software. « We could even imagine total immersion of the body coming into contact with objects and fluids », Vincent Hayward tells us.
The health field is also concerned, for the improvement of medical devices and especially to improve communication and man-machine interactions. The integration of haptics is constantly evolving to meet major societal challenges.
Actronika: the solution for realistic haptics
Actronika provides all the essential components for an optimal haptic user experience: software, hardware, integration and R&D. The company offers synthesis software designed to seamlessly integrate interactive haptics into next-generation hardware and software products. It is thanks to their expertise and know-how that they can support haptic integration projects and help design user interactions.
Actronika is notably working on several research projects such as the PH-CODING project, for the understanding of haptic perception; the INTUITIVE project, which aims to offer a unique research training opportunity; and the MUSE-ITproject, for the preservation of cultural heritage in an inclusive way.
The start-up was born from a research collaboration conducted at ISIR. Vincent Hayward, founder of Actronika, was working on a project to develop high-performance haptic devices (small haptic motors). Associated with Rafal Pijewski, a member of the laboratory, they were able to benefit from the Agoranov incubator of Sorbonne University to concretize their business creation project. It was in the incubator that they crossed paths with Gilles Meyer, a seasoned entrepreneur, who was to become co-founder of the company. His knowledge and experience in startup management allowed, in just a few months, the raising of investment funds to make the deeptech take off.
Actronika became the first startup to be awarded the prestigious « Palme d’Or des Nouvelles Technologies » and a « Diplôme de Mérite et de Prestige National » by the Comité de France. The winner was distinguished for its multiple applications: bone conduction of sound, virtual reality, medical interfaces and devices, automotive, consumer electronics, mobiles, etc. The ceremony took place on Thursday, the 2nd of June at the Académie des Sciences – Institut de France.
Scientific referent: Vincent Hayward, Professor at Sorbonne University