Piezo haptic engine brings HD haptics to wearables

April 30, 2021 // By Rich Pell
Piezo haptic engine brings HD haptics to wearables
Haptic applications-focused semiconductor company Boréas Technologies has unveiled what it claims is the first module to harness the high performance of piezo actuators to solve wearable devices' most significant challenge - achieving true high-definition (HD) haptic feedback in a broad range of low-power space-constrained devices.

The Boréas Piezo Haptic Engine (Boréas PHE) is offered as a major advancement over the two legacy technologies that have dominated haptics in wearables and other small devices: linear resonant actuators (LRAs) and eccentric rotating mass (ERM) motors, in which the quality of haptic performance is tied directly to the LRA's or ERM's volume and mass. This architectural approach, says the company, 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," says Simon Chaput, founder and CEO, Boréas Technologies. "This makes choosing a high-quality haptic engine essential to customer satisfaction. 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," says Chaput. "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."

The advantages of the BPHE over the LRA - the haptic technology most commonly used in wearables - is measurable, says the company, citing the following specifications:

  • 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

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