US interface developer Synaptics has announced a partnership with French auto accessory supplier Valeo to create the first in-car screen that can sense force of touch and respond with haptic feedback.
The technology allows drivers and passengers to control a vehicle's applications by using the touch of a single or multiple fingers with variable force on a screen. This means the user doesn't need to look at the interface, making for a safer driving experience.
While touchscreen infotainment and GPS direction systems have become key features in today's cars, they can be very distracting for drivers. The ability to "feel" a screen's instructions, rather than see them, is set to be a game changer in automotive design. "Leveraging Synaptics' ClearPad ClearForce touch- and force-sensing technology in a single chip, this automotive solution represents new dimensions in vehicle user interfaces," said John Brady, senior director at Synaptics.
The technology could be particularly helpful for scrolling or bringing up menus and additional information while on the move. The haptic feedback feature could signal to drivers that GPS directions have begun, ensuring their attention remains on the road ahead.