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Haptic Printed and Patterned Interfaces for Sensitive Surface

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HAPPINESS (Haptic Printed and Patterned Interfaces for Sensitive Surface)

Période du rapport: 2016-07-01 au 2017-12-31

The main goal of the HAPPINESS project is to develop a smart conformable surface able to offer different tactile sensations via the development of a Haptic Thin and Organic Large Area Electronic technology (TOLAE), integrating sensing and feedback capabilities, focusing on user requirements and ergonomic design. To this aim, by gathering all the value chain actors (materials, technology, manufacturing, OEM integrator) for an application for the automotive market, the HAPPINESS project, will offer a new haptic Human-Machine Interfaces technology, integrating touch sensing and disruptive feedback capabilities directly into an automotive dashboard.

The last ten years have been extremely exciting in modern Human Machine Interface design, especially in consumer electronics with the arrival of the tactile smart phones and tablets, resulting in immense opportunities but also intense challenges for technology providers, system integrators and OEM HMI designers. In automotive HMI, the arrival of advanced telematics, the spill over from consumer electronics trends and ever more safety solutions have driven innovation and engaging interface concepts.

The HAPPINESS key objective is to design innovative flexible printed actuators combined with touch sensors in order to answer new HMI needs in terms of localized haptic feedback effects on large surfaces. These conformable actuators will be capable to offer 3 different common sensations:
·Roughness to mimic surface texture,
·Vibration to mimic the click of the traditional push-button,
·Relief to ease eyes-free interaction (and to minimize user distraction as it is particularly relevant in automotive applications).

-User studies have been performed on real environments (in car, on roads), using printed haptic actuators.
-Capacitive sensors have been designed, fabricated and integrated using injection process, in an functional and aesthetic automobile dashboard, showcased at Geneva Motor Show 2017
-Printed haptic actuators have been fabricated and delivered to partners, for user studies and for dissemination
-Haptic sliders layout have been defined by simulation, designed, fabricated and tested
-Printing process for actuators stacked together has been developed, leading to an increase of fabrication yield and haptic feedback satisfying performances
-Electronic boards required for both capacitive sensors and printed actuators have been fabricated, tested and implemented on prototypes….
-Technical domains covered by the HAPPINESS project have been presented in various journals, conferences or fairs such as World haptics, AutomotiveUI, UIST, CES or Geneva Motor Show
After 3 years of development, the project achieved significant progresses toward flexible printed actuators and sensors, answering HMI needs.

Different functions defined during the first period of the HAPPINESS project have been demonstrated in several small-scale prototypes. Capacitive sensors have been integrated into plastic housing using overmolding process and showcased in Sbarro concept car at Geneva International Motor fair. In parallel, users studies have been performed to define which Interaction Techniques have to be implemented, and different versions of electronics have realized for touch sensors and actuators devices, including high frequency boards for roughness modulation actuators.
In-real car user studies proved the effectiveness of haptic feedback during driving and demonstrated printed haptic actuator to end-users.
The integration of printed components in plastic housing have been addressed. Concerning the touch sensors, results show that touch functionality is preserved after the overmolding process. The sensitivity and response time is not impacted by thick plastic.
Concerning printed actuators, different options have been evaluated. The overmolding process is not damaging actuators but causes aesthetic issue hard to solve. Modification of the injection mold has been done to solve this issue. A proof of concept has been done and validates this modification. In parallel, gluing solution has been used. It shows good results in terms of aesthetic aspect of the plastic part and conservation of the electromechanical performances.
Development of materials have been carried out during the first period of the project, printing process optimization have been developped durnring the second period:
•Finite Element simulation has been used to define the optimized architecture of actuators able to deliver the requested level of performances. Haptic buttons and sliders for Small scale prototype and user interaction studies have been designed based on simulation results. Roughness modulation effect sliders have also been designed based on the mechanical characterization of components developed during the first reporting period.
•Printing process was optimized to improve the fabrication yield and reliability in order to be able to deliver demonstrators required by the project, to meet electromechanical specifications by stacking multiple layers of Electro Active Polymer / Electrode. Optimized process is now able to reach high fabrication yield (close to 100%) for multiple layers actuators (up to 10 actuators stacked together) leading to the fabrication of functional demonstrators.
Vibrotactile haptic effects (~250Hz, 100µm amplitude) can be produced on different demonstrators using printed actuators. The feasibility of roughness modulation effect sliders (squeeze film effect) have been validated. A proof of concept has been done and tested. The effect was felt by experimentators.

Results based on research from using HAPPINESS-related hardware have been disseminated to the public via conference and journal publications and presentations, trade shows, workshops, public events, official website and social media.
An Exploitation Strategy Seminar have been organized, Key Exploitation Results have been identified (Printed touch sensors and Haptic feedback for vibrotactile surfaces).
The HAPPINESS typical application will be a 3D-shaped demonstrator of an Automotive Dashboard integrating advanced Touch Sensing and Haptic Feedback capabilities.
Centrally located inside the car, accessible by both driver and passenger, the automotive dashboard integrates different parts of the front part, allowing the driver and passenger to use many functions (AC, radio, GPS and various other controls)
Currently, all the parts of this component of the vehicle are small mechanical elements which are manually actuated (with a mechanical response) depending on its use. Currently the automotive market is progressively shifting from physical interfaces to touch screen technologies. However touch screens do not have the physical properties of physical buttons that allow eyes-free interaction, which is a major security issue for the driver who has to focus his visual attention to the road.
The goal of the HAPPINESS project is to replace all the mechanical components and take advantage of touch technology while restoring haptic feedback and achieving an integrated product directly assembled for the final manufacturer. Thus the weight, cost and complexity of inline assembly of the product will be reduced, as well as the assembly time for the final installer (OEM) that will result in a cost reduction for manufacturers, while interaction with the controls will continue being safe for the driver.
HAPPINESS interactive dashboard with printed sensors integrated using plastic injection process
Printed sensors and actuators used for interaction techniques studies
HAPPINESS Haptic demo kit used for in-real car user studies