Haptics technology specialist Boreas has introduced the Boréas Piezo Haptic Engine (Boréas PHE) reference design for wearable designers. The fitness tracker module design helps designers leverage the performance benefits of piezo actuators to deliver high-definition (HD) haptic feedback in low-power, space-constrained wearables.
The demand and market for higher-quality haptics capabilities in numerous applications are growing exponentially, a recent report from IDTechEx suggested.
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HD haptic technology is all about delivering a better user experience, ranging from communicating information without requiring the user’s sight or hearing and easy differentiation of haptic effects to creating immersive experiences when used with audio and video.
Boreas claims its HPE is a major advancement over both legacy technologies that have dominated haptics in wearables and other small devices: linear resonant actuators (LRA) and eccentric rotating mass (ERM) motors. The quality of the haptic performance of both LRAs and ERMs is linked directly to their own mass and volume. This architectural approach makes these platforms too large to achieve a satisfying user experience in wearables. In contrast, the Boréas PHE uses a small off-the-shelf piezo actuator and the mass of other internal components to generate exceptional haptic performance, eliminating the size-power-performance trade-off typical of LRAs and ERMs.
“The quality of haptic effects in smartwatches and fitness bands is vital to the user experience. This makes choosing a high-quality haptic engine essential to customer satisfaction,” said Simon Chaput, founder and CEO, Boréas Technologies. “But the dominant actuators generally used in wearables, LRAs and ERMs, generate inferior haptic effects at the small size needed for wearables.
“Piezo actuators, on the other hand, don’t have this problem. Used with our Boréas PHE, they produce stronger, more realistic, and more responsive haptic experiences that are sure to delight users with the premium feel that they’ve come to expect. Plus, their small size and ultra-low power consumption tick all the boxes for devices in which every millimeter and microamp are critical.”
Outperforming LRAs in Wearables
The advantages of the BPHE over the LRA—the haptic technology most commonly used in wearables—is measurable.
- Larger Bandwidth—the BPHE creates stronger haptic effects within a larger bandwidth, from frequencies between 30-300 Hz, while small LRAs offer a narrow bandwidth at high frequencies (>200 Hz)
- Faster Rise and Fall Times—with rise times of 2.25 cycles vs. LRA’s 11 cycles, and fall times <10 ms vs. LRA’s 80 ms, the Boréas PHE’s faster response times enable sharper, more realistic haptic effects in wearables
- Low Power Consumption—the Boréas PHE is up to 10x more power-efficient than LRAs, extending battery lifetime
- Small Footprint—with a 12x4x1.8mm piezo actuator, the BPHE is small enough for volume-constrained devices
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About Boréas Technologies
Boréas Technologies Inc. is a fabless semiconductor company commercializing product-differentiating piezo IC platforms in consumer and industrial markets. With origins in research conducted at Harvard University, Boréas was founded in 2016 in Bromont, Québec. Its proprietary CapDrive technology platform—on which the company’s ICs are based—is ideal for resource-constrained devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, smartphones, game controllers, and the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
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