Ultra-low-power haptic chip for HD touch in wearables

October 09, 2018 // By Julien Happich
Founded mid-2016 and having closed a seed financing round in March 2017, Canadian startup Boréas Technologies has developed its first product in less than three years. With the BOS1901 launching now, the company says it is bringing to market the world's lowest-power piezoelectric driver IC for high-definition (HD) haptic feedback in wearables and other battery-powered consumer devices.


The BOS1901 piezoelectric driver.

According to the manufacturer, the 4x4x0.8mm chip delivers 10X power savings over its nearest piezoelectric competitor as well as 4X to 20X power savings over other incumbent technologies such as Linear Resonant Actuator (LRA) and Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM) vibration motors which are much bulkier than piezoelectric haptic solutions.

When interviewed about the new chip by eeNews Europe, Simon Chaput, founder and CEO of Boréas Technologies would not reveal the tricks the driver plays to considerably reduce power consumption, except that it was based on Boreas’ patent pending CapDrive technology platform, a proprietary scalable piezoelectric driver architecture.

Piezoelectric actuators are very promising and very interesting things have been done in the lab, such as creating surface textures or using multiple actuators at the periphery of displays to localize haptic effects on screen through beam forming. But according to the CEO, all these applications have been impractical for volume production due to their high power consumption.

"The piezoelectric actuator itself is very energy efficient, but the electronics for driving it was always very inefficient. Often, you need to drive them at voltages of 50, 100 or even 200V."

"The BOS1901 is completely different from what has been done in the past. We offer a digital front end that can take from 1.8 to 5V and designers can use any waveform in a digital format. They can use any haptic effects that have been developed before, and we provide a few example waveforms in a development kit" said Chaput.


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