Can haptic feedback help reduce the driver distraction that is associated with operating in-vehicle touch screens? Continental Automotive engineers believe it can. The company recently unveiled a new active Haptic Feedback Display that provides driver feedback using a movement impulse that can be felt through one's fingers. The resulting vibration the driver feels indicates that the desired operation has been triggered and understood by the system.
Continental has put its first complete touch display with haptic feedback into demonstrator vehicles as a prelude to production for evaluation by OEM engineers and technology media. (Automotive Engineering will report our driving impressions in an upcoming article). The unit is a touch-sensitive 8-in flat screen with an integrated haptic actuator system. The actuators consist of an electromagnetic spool with two windings.
In certain operating situations, the actuators trigger mechanical feedback that can be clearly felt by the user, while helping to measure the force exerted. The actuators are located behind the construction elements of the touch display, under the screen's bonded layers of protective glass, a capacitive sensor, and the display.
For in-vehicle use, a rigid structure of the individual elements is required, according to Continental engineers. The production-intent system can be scaled to larger display sizes depending on OEM requirements, currently up to 12.3 in.
The tactile feedback from the display is not visible to the naked eye as a mechanical movement—the “deflection" is only around 0.1 mm (0.004 in). However, because this takes place with very high acceleration, the mechanical impulse generated can be clearly felt by a finger.
The feedback always takes place on the entire display area. The characteristics and intensity of the haptic feedback can be freely configured, so that the unit can be adapted to an OEM’s brand-specific standards, as well as to particular driving and operating situations, the company noted.