Bayer unit puts EAP muscle into touchy-feely iPod app

By Roger Renstrom
Correspondent

Published: January 31, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Automotive, Consumer Products, Medical

LAS VEGAS (Jan. 31, 2:50 p.m. ET) — A subsidiary of Bayer MaterialScience LLC is exploring automotive and medical applications for its ViviTouch-brand actuator, now used in an external case for Apple Inc.’s fourth-generation iPod Touch device.

Demonstrations of the sound-and-vibration accessory drew positive attention during the Jan. 10-13 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. By itself, the iPod Touch does not support haptic, or sense of touch, feedback.

“We see electroactive polymers as a key material in developing components that translate electrical energy into movement in actuators and store energy in generators or sensors,” said Andrew Cheng, marketing director for the Bayer unit, Artificial Muscle Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. “Bayer is the first to commercialize EAP for the Mophie Pulse, a gaming device [controller] for the iPod Touch.” Mophie Inc. of Santa Ana, Calif., makes the Pulse.

Apple markets the case, with its textured gaming grip, for about $80. According to Apple, “it delivers pulse-pounding stereo sound and bone-shaking game feedback thanks to ViviTouch technology.” Originally, Artificial Muscle developed the actuator as a type of electrical motor for evaluating and monitoring muscle and tissue conditions.

A ViviTouch actuator consists of a thin layer of dielectric polymer film sandwiched between compliant electrodes, according to Artificial Muscle. When voltage is applied across the electrodes, the electrodes attract each other and the film contracts in thickness and expands in area.

The technology is particularly suited for small, battery-powered mobile applications such as Smartphones, gaming consoles, remote controls and gaming controllers, Cheng said. “These actuators are used to move an inertial mass, such as the battery inside the device, and according to a specific haptic control signal.”

Software developers can enhance their games and applications with ViviTouch’s small and lightweight characteristics and the “ability to achieve significant motion with less power, fast response times and nearly silent operation volume,” Cheng said.

“ViviTouch can reproduce any audio or vibration waveform and thus our ‘high-definition feel’ is perceived as more realistic to the consumer,” Cheng said, citing user studies.

Apple’s hard-shell Mophie Pulse has a soft-touch grip, integrated speakers and low-profile access to the controls.

 “Our patent portfolio covers the complete EAP base technology, including a broad range of disruptive approaches that can replace electrical motors and generators,” Cheng said. “While we are focused on the mobile gaming industry as an entry into the consumer electronics market, down the road we can certainly apply this to automotive and medical applications.”

Artificial Muscle unveiled the ViviTouch at CES 2011.

Bayer MaterialScience of Pittsburgh acquired Artificial Muscle in March 2010.

See other stories in the Plastics in Electronics Special Report:

Ever-dwindling demand for  PCs offset somewhat by small devices

Cell phone makers look to Asia for sales

Dow additive keeps PC from scratching


Comments

Bayer unit puts EAP muscle into touchy-feely iPod app

By Roger Renstrom
Correspondent

Published: January 31, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Auto suppliers announce expansion plans in Slovakia

December 24, 2014 9:11 am ET

Three auto suppliers in Slovakia have announced plans to expand in the country.    More

Image

CCL Label investing $30 million in South Carolina plant

December 23, 2014 2:52 pm ET

Toronto-based CCL Industries Inc. is investing $30 million to expand one of its CCL Label manufacturing plants, in Clinton, S.C.    More

Image

Cretex buys California toolmaker

December 23, 2014 11:34 am ET

Medical device manufacturer JunoPacific Inc. has added tooling capabilities through the acquisition of Lawrence Tool and Engineering in California.    More

Image

The Technology House moves to larger Ohio location

December 22, 2014 1:22 pm ET

A need for more space is leading industrial manufacturing firm the Technology House Ltd. to move from Solon, Ohio, to nearby Streetsboro.    More

Image

Jarden hiring for new plastics plant

December 19, 2014 1:45 pm ET

Consumer products conglomerate Jarden Corp. is hiring plastics technicians for a new operation in Erlanger, Ky.    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

Our latest RESEARCH report examines trends in FLEXIBLE PACKAGING impacting the North American market including a review of economic conditions, key drivers of growth, materials pricing, M&A activity, sustainability challenges and the outlook for 2015.

Learn more

Plastics in Brazil - State of the Industry Report

This in-depth report examines the Brazilian plastics industry from a historical and geographical context. Our analysts provide insight on economic trends and forecasts, growing manufacturing sectors that utilize plastics, private investment opportunities, market environment challenges, and innovations in R&D.

Data tables and charts on producer prices, trade, plastics production and end market indicators is also included.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

October 27, 2015 - October 29, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - New York - 2015

More Events