Immersion's VibeTonz® System Supplies Tactile Cues for Mobile Phone and PDA Touchscreens; Solves the Problem of a Lack of Tactile Feedback for Touchscreen User Interfaces
SAN JOSE, Calif., Jun 27, 2006 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Immersion Corporation (Nasdaq:IMMR), a leading developer and licensor of touch feedback technology, has expanded its VibeTonz(R) tactile feedback system to now provide an inexpensive and robust way of improving the usability of mobile-device touchscreens. This new VibeTonz application can provide an unmistakable tactile confirmation to the user that their finger or stylus press on the device touchscreen was accepted as input. The VibeTonz System is currently used in a number of mobile phones worldwide for supplying tactile cues in ringers, alerts, games, and other usability features.
"Immersion's VibeTonz system is the most exciting opportunity to improve the usability of touchscreens that I have ever experienced," said Scott Weiss, author of Handheld Usability and president of Usable Products, an ease-of-use agency focused on usability research and design of handheld products. "It has to be felt to be believed."
According to a Gartner Dataquest forecast, smartphones that depend on larger screens to integrate the functionality of a mobile phone and a personal digital assistant comprise the fastest-growing portion of the mobile terminal market, with sales expected to double year-over-year in 2006, reaching 200 million by 2008. (Forecast: Mobile Terminals, Worldwide, 2005-2009, 4Q05 Update, 12 January 2006).
"Touch screen technology in phones is primarily aimed at high-end smart phones and PDAs at present. Touch screen cost reductions and the emergence of applications designed for touch screens will be critical for market growth. Also, the integration of any technology that enhances the user experience and improves ease of use will be important for market adoption," said Stuart Robinson, director of the Handset Component Technologies service at global research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics. "We believe that market conditions are almost ripe for an explosion in touch screen phones and that by 2012 as many as 40% of mobile phones could be using some form of touch sensitive technology."
Touchscreens offer significant benefits to designers and users as mobile devices become a primary messaging, calendaring, and multimedia terminal. With screens needing to be larger to accommodate richer data and more complex applications, there is less device real estate available for dedicated mechanical keys. Touchscreens can provide virtual keypads adaptable to different operating modes through software control. For example, they can display a standard numeric keypad for voice dialing, then switch to a menu system optimized for e-mail. Directly touching an onscreen object to operate a device or manipulate data comes very naturally to users.
Traditional, passive touchscreen implementations, however, have been associated with higher input-error rates than mechanical key systems. Immersion's VibeTonz system heightens interactivity, letting touchscreens respond more like mechanical keys, which are known to support more efficient user navigation, typing speed, and accuracy because of their tactile qualities. With the VibeTonz System, at relatively low cost, PDA and smartphone makers may be able to achieve the large usability gains of providing tactile responses for touchscreen presses. Immersion's solution uses lightweight VibeTonz control software and commonly used touchscreens and mobile-handset vibration actuators.
"The use of touchscreens in mobile devices is increasing as devices get smarter and need to convey more information, while at the same time still fitting into your pocket," states Avi Greengart, principal analyst, mobile devices, at Current Analysis, a competitive intelligence and analysis company. "To manage that paradox, we are seeing more 'all-screen, no keypad' devices where a virtual keypad is used. The problem is that people are not virtual -- they need the physical feedback of real buttons. Applying tactile feedback technology to a touchscreen is an elegant step towards providing a solution to this problem."
The field-proven VibeTonz System, comprised of VibeTonz Mobile Player and VibeTonz SDK, delivers a broad range of touch feedback effects to make phone use more intuitive and engaging. Designed to be embedded in any mobile device, VibeTonz Mobile Player exerts precise, high-speed control over the device's vibration actuator to produce tactile effects with unprecedented subtlety and dynamics. VibeTonz SDK provides cross-platform APIs and a suite of authoring tools for making development and customization of touch feedback effects fast and easy. The VibeTonz System has been implemented in mobile phones offered by leading operators worldwide to enhance the user experience in diverse applications:
-- VibeTonz synchronized vibrations in ringtones underscore the beat or melody, supplying the feeling that you've turned up the subwoofers.
-- VibeTonz-enabled ringtones have also been used for caller identification, where they provide information on who's calling even in noisy environments or when sound is turned off.
-- Mobile game play is more fun and exciting with touch feedback similar to that found in console games.
-- VibeTonz tactile cues in user interface features, like call dropped, key press, and ringing and busy signals, make phone operation easier.
-- VibeTonz cues can also be added to navigation features, helping users find unread or important messages, friends in the address book, and particular menu items quickly.
-- Alerts using VibeTonz effects can be made more distinguishable from each other and also more memorable. Users are more likely to remember the reason for the particular alert if it is distinct and discernible -- a subtle tapping, a reverberation like Big Ben's clock tower, or the rhythm of ocean waves, for example.
"All of the capabilities we've described today, and others for enriching music, video, and messaging, can be enabled with a single VibeTonz implementation," said Vic Viegas, Immersion CEO. "Our VibeTonz system can act as an enabling platform for cost-effectively improving the mobile-device user experience in a number of ways."
About Immersion (www.immersion.com)
Founded in 1993, Immersion Corporation is a recognized leader in developing, licensing, and marketing digital touch technology and products. Bringing value to markets where man-machine interaction needs to be made more compelling, safer, or productive, Immersion helps its partners broaden market reach by making the use of touch feedback as critical a user experience as sight and sound. Immersion's technology is deployed across automotive, entertainment, medical training, mobility, personal computing, and three-dimensional simulation markets. Immersion's patent portfolio includes over 600 issued or pending patents in the U.S. and other countries.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" that involve risks and uncertainties, as well as assumptions that, if they never materialize or prove incorrect, could cause the results of Immersion Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.
All statements, other than the statements of historical fact, are statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements, including any projections of earnings, revenues, or other financial matters; any statements of the plans, strategies, and objectives of management for future operations; any statements concerning the breadth of and timeline to implement force feedback technology into handset models or touchscreens or into games or other content, release of VibeTonz-enabled handsets, release of content by service providers, or any change in revenue that may occur from such implementation; any statements regarding consumer response that may occur as a result of having touch feedback in handsets or content, or consumer and market acceptance of force feedback products in general; proposed products or services; any statements regarding future economic conditions or performance; statements of belief; and any statement or assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Immersion's actual results might differ materially from those stated or implied by such forward-looking statements due to risks and uncertainties associated with Immersion's business which include, but are not limited to, delay in or failure to achieve commercial demand for Immersion's products or a delay in or failure to achieve the acceptance of force feedback as a critical user experience.
For a more detailed discussion of these factors, and other factors that could cause the Immersion's actual results to vary materially, interested parties should review the risk factors listed in the Immersion's most current Form 10-Q, which is on file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements in this press release reflect the Immersion's beliefs and predictions as of the date of this release. The Immersion disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements as a result of financial, business, or any other developments occurring after the date of this release.
Immersion, the Immersion logo, and VibeTonz are trademarks of Immersion Corporation in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
SOURCE: Immersion Corporation
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