Bristol-based Ultrahaptics has launched a development platform that allows companies to evaluate its mid-air control technology and add it to consumer and industrial designs. You can see some of the many possibler uses mid-air touchable controls could help with in the video below:

The UHDK5 TOUCH Development Kit provides a complete hardware and software package with an architecture that can readily be embedded in product designs, from prototypes right through to volume production and was developed as part of a £1.2m European Horizon 2020 project.

ultrahaptics_Steve_Cliffe“This is about scaling the business,” said Steve Cliffe, CEO of Ultrahaptics (pictured right). “For our customers we have to customise the software for the different sensations and they pay us for this. The funding grant was to take the IP and embed it into a microprocessor with an API for them to develop by themselves so for every design win it goes from 50-60 man weeks of development to one or two,” he said.

The patented technology uses ultrasound to provide a unique touch sensation that can revolutionise the human-machine interface, enabling users to ‘feel’ virtual buttons, switches, dials and other objects in mid-air. Touchless controls are hygienic for use in medical, industrial and domestic environments, such as hospitals, kitchens and restrooms, while their use for automotive infotainment and dashboard functions enhances safety, allowing drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

The disruptive nature of gesture control with haptic feedback, providing two-way communication with devices, also opens up new possibilities in consumer electronics, computing and gaming applications.

What’s in the kit?

Ultrahaptics_T003_Mid_air_touch_technology_in_actionThe development kit includes a 16 x 16 array of ultrasound sensors that works straight out of the box and can be up and running in just a few minutes to provide demonstrations that require no technical knowledge from the user.

For developers, the embeddable architecture uses an ARM microcontroller core with a field programmable logic device (FPGA) along with the C++ software APIs. This allows software engineers to easily adapt their application interfaces with customised sensations.

“Our haptic technology, which is already commercially available, enables product designers to bring responsive gesture recognition to their customers in a way never previously imagined,” said David Owen, VP Business Development at Ultrahaptics. “Our aim in introducing this development kit is to speed up the evaluation and product development cycle and allow our customers to bring their differentiated product designs to market even quicker.”

Shipping in January 2017, the TOUCH development kit will be available to pre-order through distributor Avnet from this month.

You can sign up for the Ultrahaptics development kit here. And if you’d like to meet the team behind the tech who are currently looking to employ more people as they expand (and who recently won two Travelwest awards for the most sustainable journeys made by employees) don’t miss them at the SPARK Skills Festival on the 1 December at Bristol’s Watershed.

Nick Flaherty