Exclusive—Titan Haptics Debuts Clustered Array to Serve Non-standard Designs
Launched here today, Titan’s clustered array motor approach enables engineers to combine multiple haptic motors into an array that meets their exact application needs.
At its booth (420) at Sensors Converge today, come see Titan’s Clustered Haptic Arrays built into the first ever HD haptic lightsaber.
Even among engineers, the term “haptics” probably isn’t well understood. But one thing is certain: Engineers are all about: “How do I implement it?” In the context of this article, we’re talking about small haptic motors that create a vibration sensation for use in all kinds of consumer, automotive, and medical applications.
Along just those lines, today Titan Haptics has announced—exclusively here on All About Circuits—the launch of its Clustered Haptic Array motors. These motors take a modular approach to designing in haptic technology in a way that can be right-sized for a broad set of applications.
A single Drake Motor (left). A Drake motor-based Clustered Haptic Array (right)
In this article, we explain the Clustered Haptic Array motor approach, we discuss the underlying technology, and we share insights from our exclusive interview with Titan’s head of engineering, Kyle Skippon and head of marketing and strategic partnerships, Ashley Huffman.
Haptics: Not Well Understood, But Everywhere
For its part, Titan sells its haptic motors into a wide range of applications like gaming, virtual reality, automotive, space, medical, and a wide set of consumer electronics. All that said, Huffman points out that the general public absolutely takes haptics for granted. “We get a lot of head tilts when trying to explain what we do to some folks,” says Huffman. “But, when we say that haptics is the vibration in your phone, or the vibration in your gaming controller, they immediately get it.”
Titan’s haptic motors are based on suspended magnetics instead of springs or flexures.
Titan specializes in haptic motors that use its invented technology, along with a series of tools, firmware, and reference designs to support engineers who want to integrate haptics into their designs. Titan’s haptic motors use a technology called Linear Magnetic Rams (LMRs).
LMRs are basically wideband voice-coil haptic motors. But in contrast to motors based on springs or flexures, LMR rely on solid-state magnetic suspension. Based on Titian's patented technology, LMRs are said to offer superior frequency response, reliability, and strength of haptic output compared to conventional approaches.
Clustered Array Approach Enables Customization
Among Titan’s leading products is its Drake motor. At 10 mm in diameter (cylinder), and around 20 mm long, Skippon says that the motor is really good for applications like handheld devices, larger wearables, headphones, gaming peripherals, mice, keyboards—anything with a medium form factor.
“What's cool about Drake is that it's super power dense,” says Skippon. “So, for its size, it outputs a ton of power. It feels like a way bigger motor than it is.” What Titan is announcing today is its Clustered Haptic Arrays that combine multiple Drake haptic motors to increase power output, while at the same time accommodating different product form factors and sizes.
“The main value of this is to serve haptics development for non standard products,” says Skippon. “When I say ‘non-standard’ I mean stuff that isn't in the millions of annual units. Devices like smartphones, gaming consoles, stuff like that—they have motors that are built around the common form factors. They are easy to go and buy.”
In contrast, Skippon explains, if you're developing stuff like automotive applications or gaming seats or devices like a joystick or other things, the form factors aren't there to support motor production of specific motor SKUs.
With the Clustered Haptic Array motor approach, engineers can choose a flat array (left), a large cylindrical array (right), or multiple other configurations.
“That makes it really difficult to find a solution that works well to make the device,” he says. ”With our clustered array, we're able to combine multiple of our Drake units into irregular form factors that could be like a flat pack, or something cylindrical and large (see image above).”
Mix and Match to Suit Your Design Needs
As Skippon explains, the Drake motors used in Clustered Haptic Arrays can be mixed and matched for target applications. By mixing motors with different specs, you can do some interesting things. For example, you can enhance haptic feedback by using a combination of a high-frequency Drake motor for button clicks and a low-frequency Drake model for subwoofer explosions.
Cluster Haptic Arrays can be configured in any form factor to meet the design requirements.
This kind of layering of haptic effects results in a more immersive experience, according to the company. Importantly, a cluster array can use a single drive signal. without any interference or phase issues. The clusters can fit irregular form factors, like flat, circular, triangular, square, and so on.
Haptic Lightsaber Demo at Sensors Converge
For more information, Titan has a blog post with links to STEP files for 3D printing the mounts. The post also links you to an implementation guide that teaches you how to combine different Drake models, and some best practices for mechanical mounting.
Titan says that its Drake haptic motors are available now on its website and from Digi-Key. The company will be at Sensors Converge, running this week (June 21-22). Come by their booth #420 to see their Clustered Haptic Arrays built into the first ever HD haptic lightsaber.
All images used courtesy of Titan Haptics