About this project
Update 1: Announcing the $150,000 Stretch Goal: Pressure Sensitivity. Learn more here!
Update 2: Haptix: both a mouse and a... keyboard? Check it out here!
Update 3: Design in 3D or play first-person games with only your fingers! Check out some awesome videos of Haptix!
Work or play, make life easier with Haptix.
Multitouch is fun and natural to use, but it's only present on a few devices. Because tablets and smartphones are easy to use, they're also easy to enjoy. But as great as multitouch screens are, it's still hard to beat the mouse/keyboard combo when it comes to productivity. We wondered if it was possible to combine the best of both worlds -- introducing Haptix.
Haptix turns ANY surface into a multitouch surface. It's a sleek bar that you can place flat or clip on something elevated to enable multitouch on any flat surface, such as a table, window, or screen. You can then control any computer by tapping, pinching to zoom, or swiping to scroll on that surface itself. It's as intuitive and natural as a multitouch screen, just without the actual screen.
But it's more than just multitouch - it's 3D multitouch. Even when your fingers are above the surface, you see them appear on the screen. This way, you know exactly what you're selecting when you tap the surface. To click on a link, simply move your finger over the link and tap down; it's so much faster than swiping on a trackpad. When you're touching what you see, it's just like reaching out and touching the screen itself, except your hands are well-rested right in front of you.
Controlling anything becomes much easier. Whether you're using your laptop or your TV, you get to enjoy the intuitive multitouch experience we know and love. Tap on a link to open it? Pinch to zoom in on a picture? Swipe to get those falling fruits? Do it all from the comfort of resting your hands on a surface.
Haptix is a mouse-killer.
Can Haptix replace the mouse? We believe it can. Point it at your table, and bam, use your hands as your mouse and much more. Haptix can be used in 3 modes:
You can either treat the surface like a multitouch screen or a trackpad, or define different functions for different fingers. For instance, you can use your middle finger as the cursor, your index finger to left click, and your ring finger to right click. We haven't used the mouse in a while, and we haven't found the need yet.
Create two layers of interaction with 3D multitouch.
3D multitouch adds a layer of 3D sensing on top of a layer of multitouch. These two forms of interaction complement each other perfectly and each makes up for what the other lacks. Your fingers' positions are captured even before they touch the surface, so you know what you're controlling when you tap or pinch on the surface.
3D multitouch takes a completely different approach to 3D sensing that solves fundamental problems with 3D sensing today. Other solutions require you to hold your hands in the air, which can be awkward and makes precise control almost impossible. With Haptix, you get 3D sensing that:
- Gives you tactile feedback (the satisfying feel of touch)
- Allows you to rest your hands on a surface
- Lets you define the space of operation
- Allows you to control things on a surface with precision
- Has practical applications in improving productivity
3D multitouch moves multitouch away from screens. Portable multitouch is one of the best things to happen to multitouch. If you have a tablet, you're looking down while using it and your neck might hurt over time. Or if you have an ultrabook, you're constantly reaching out and your arm hurts over time. And even in both these cases, your hands cover part of the screen (plus smudges). With 3D multitouch, these problems just go away.
Haptix is based on patent-pending breakthrough algorithms in computer vision and image processing. We've rejected virtually every conventional method of making such things possible and formulated better techniques to take their place. Haptix tracks the 3D coordinates of fingers and calculates their positions relative to the surface, and it works through the same principle as how our eyes see things (aka stereo vision). Since Haptix doesn't rely on infrared or thresholding, this makes Haptix the first affordable 3D sensing solution to be able to be used while looking down at a surface, under ANY lighting condition, and while on the go.
A few ways we love using Haptix:
Clip it on top of your laptop. Turn your keyboard into a multitouch keyboard, and then control your computer ENTIRELY FROM your keyboard. The surface of your keyboard becomes a multitouch pad, so you glide your fingers across the top of the keys. Remember those pesky Excel sheets that make you keep going between mouse/trackpad and keyboard? Remember wanting to play a first-person shooter game but not having your mouse? With Haptix, those days are gone. To set it up, simply plug it in, do a quick four-point calibration, and you'll be up and running! Worried about typing? Don't worry, Haptix automatically deactivates when you type.
Haptix works on Windows XP/Vista/7/8 and Ubuntu
Put it on your sofa while you watch TV. It's nice to have a personal multitouch remote in front of you while you're watching TV. Flipping through videos or apps becomes a breeze.
We're working hard on great hardware and production quality.
Haptix has an anodized beadblasted aluminum casing for a great look and feel. Having tried various materials, we believe that nothing beats a sleek aluminum finish, and we hope you agree.
We want Haptix to be as high-quality as possible. Currently, Haptix's dimensions are 3 x 3 x 8 cm with a 120° field of view. But we're moving to a 150° angle with vastly better lenses, and are working hard to shrink the electronics without increasing costs. So you can bet that Haptix WILL get smaller.
Haptix is basically a camera. Or more specifically, Haptix consists of two CMOS image sensors (those you find in your webcams), which capture the position of your hands in 640x360 resolution, attached to a microcontroller, which does most of the processing so your computer doesn't have to. It works with visible light, but employs infrared when environmental illumination is low, so it works in the dark too! Haptix connects to your computer through a USB 2.0 cable.
We have great manufacturing partners. With the help of some of the most experienced veterans in the Chinese manufacturing scene, we're working closely (so close we're literally in the same city) with manufacturers to get the best quality product into your hands.
- Aluminum factory: We've made molds for the aluminum and plastic parts.
- Component suppliers: We've tested samples of image sensors and other components from suppliers, and have secured the best ones.
- Contract manufacturers: We've gone back-and-forth over schematics, assembly, and packaging -- finalizing tooling will be our next step.
- USPS: For when we're ready to ship!
Here's our projected timeline:
- November: Perform a sample production run, then debug and test
- February: Start shipping
Support for Android and OSX. We want you to be able to use Haptix with your Android smart TVs and MacBooks, and are hard at work on that. We'll make sure Haptix works on those platforms by the time it ships!
Developer SDK. Haptix integrates with your system right out of the box, which means that you can use it with pretty much any program. But you may have ideas (the crazier the better) on how you'd like to manipulate tracking data from Haptix (from 3D motion sensing to gesture control), and we want you to try those out!
360° hinge. The front piece on Haptix's clip doesn't interfere when you close your laptop (it's as thin as a credit card), so our next step in making Haptix something you can leave on your laptop all the time is to design a cost-effective hinge for Haptix that allows you to bend it all the way back. This way, Haptix can sit unobtrusively on top of your laptop when you pack it in a bag.
We need you.
We can't wait to get Haptix into your hands. Our Kickstarter will fund refinement of the electronics and additional tooling for mass production. It'll also give us an idea how many to include in our first production orders, so it's your chance to be the first to enjoy interacting with your computer in an entirely different way. If we go over our Kickstarter goal, we'll be able to develop additional features for you such as different colors and other cool stuff we have planned. More on that later!
Join us! When you use Haptix for the first time, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped make it happen. Take part in this movement to change how YOU interact with your computer.
Let 3D multitouch improve how you interact with computers - for good.
A huge thanks to our friends and mentors from The Iron Yard startup accelerator, Zhexiong Manufacturing, and the Thiel Foundation!
Risks and challenges
Quality is our biggest concern and our greatest emphasis while manufacturing in China. Haptix is composed of several different parts that is sourced from different suppliers. Managing the quality of these different parts, especially when they come together, will be difficult. But we have visited suppliers and contract manufacturers to ensure that Haptix can be manufactured with great quality, and we certainly won't let our standards stoop. This has given us enough confidence to know that we will be able to deliver Haptix as a great quality product, no matter what.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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