SynTouch has created a system that can quantify the sense of touch on fifteen different dimensions called the SynTouch Standard, and they’re one of the most impressive haptic start-ups that I’ve seen so far. SynTouch isn’t creating haptic displays per se, but they are capturing the data that will vital for other VR haptic companies to work towards creating a display that’s capable of simulating a wide variety of different textures. SynTouch lists Oculus as one of their partners, and they’re also providing their data to a number of other unannounced haptic companies.
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I had a chance to talk with Matt Borzage, head of development and one of the co-founders of SynTouch at CES where we talked about the 15 different dimensions of their SynTouch Standard across the five major areas of Texture, Compliance, Friction, Thermal, and Adhesive. This research was originally funded by DARPA in order for adding the feeling of touch to prosthetics, and the founders have backgrounds in biomedical engineering. But their mechanical process of objectively measuring the different dimensions of textures has a lot of applications in virtual reality that creates a baseline of input data for haptic displays.
Here’s a comparison of denim and a sponge across the 15 dimensions of the SynTouch Standard:
SynTouch has found a great niche in the haptics space in being able to already provide a lot of insight and value to a number of different companies looking at the ergonomics of industrial design, and they’re a company to watch in the VR space as more and more different haptics companies try to solve some of the hardest engineering problems around creating a generalized haptic device for VR.