We are beginning to see the popularization of automotive displays that generate tactile feedback through vibrations when a screen is pressed, delivering a clicking sensation as if there were a real, mechanical button. TDK’s PowerHap™ multilayer piezo-ceramic actuator provides powerful haptic feedback for a safe, reassuring, and pleasant in-car experience. It lets you recognize buttons and sliders on a touchscreen with your fingertips—instead of your eyes.
Technical challenges posed by automotive interiors transitioning to touchscreens
Today, touching the display has become a familiar feedback method for smartphones and home appliances. In particular, touch panels featuring haptics (vibration feedback)—which utilizes vibration to convey information—are enjoying rapid adoption among smartphones and in a variety of other fields. The same trend can be seen in cars, where haptics-enabled touch panel displays have begun to appear for audio and air conditioning controls, primarily in Europe. The primary benefit is a more attractive and pleasant cabin environment. By integrating control functions into the display and eliminating mechanical buttons, car interiors have the potential to become more streamlined than ever before. The contribution to safety is also garnering attention, as haptic feedback enables blind operation, helping the driver keep eyes on the road and not the screen.
That said, there is the risk of touching the screen inadvertently, triggering unintended occurrences. For instance, the audio system’s volume can be suddenly turned all the way up, startling the driver and potentially leading to a serious accident. Automotive displays intended to be usable blindly need to provide robust haptic feedback so that “touches” and “presses” are clearly discernible and the strengths and variations of vibrations are controllable with precision and flexibility.
PowerHap™ is a solution that delivers powerful vibration feedback
Enter TDK’s PowerHap 6005 piezo actuator (6005H080V120). This piezo actuator features one of the world’s highest levels of blocking force*1—powerful enough to replace mechanical buttons. Because automotive displays tend to be heavy, they usually require an array of actuators to generate vibration (e.g. voice coil actuators). A single PowerHap 6005, however, can adequately serve a display weighing up to 2kg. A display equipped with the powerful PowerHap 6005 will let a driver intuitively recognize button controls without having to look at the screen. Better yet, it accommodates an industry-leading frequency bandwidth of up to 500Hz and a voltage range of 0 to 120V, enabling crisp, sharp vibrations to be reproduced as desired.
At CES 2023, the world’s largest technology trade show held this past January, PowerHap 6005’s powerful vibration feedback capabilities were shown off as a cost-effective solution actuating a large, automotive-grade 15-inch haptic display. BOE Varitronix, a leading manufacturer of automotive displays, provided the display and related equipment; embedded systems solutions provider Microchip Technology supplied other equipment; Innovobot Labs designed and managed the overall system. The demonstration attracted substantial interest.
Haptic technology will support safe, reassuring, and comfortable car interiors of the future
Product Marketing Manager PI AE/IE
Applications | Piezo Actuators
Piezo and Protection Devices Business Group
TDK Electronics AG
Nicolás Faúndes, Product Marketing Manager at TDK Electronics, a TDK Group company, spoke about TDK’s PowerHap and the future of haptic technology. “The global haptic technology market is forecast to grow at more than 10% every year. Haptics is used in a huge variety of applications like in-car infotainment and buttons, VR devices, and styluses across multiple segments, including automotive, ICT, and industrial. PowerHap™ possesses unique strengths for haptic buttons and is being considered for use not only in automotive displays but also in steering wheels. It is sure to become an indispensable component in creating desirable car interiors.”
TDK is contributing to the next generation of mobility by supporting safe, reassuring, and pleasant in-car experiences through technologies like PowerHap™ 6005’s unique haptic feedback capabilities.
- Blocking force: The maximum possible force generated by a piezo actuator.