Feeds

The quest continues for a fondleslab that fondles you back

British vibro pioneers say: Anything can be a speaker

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

HiWave, the haptics company which emerged from Brit hi-fi consortium NXT with a mission to make our fondleslabs fondle us back, has fragmented into a part which makes money and the more-interesting Redux.

HiWave owned, and still owns, the technology developed by NXT to drive flat-panel speakers, but the executives were always more interested in haptic feedback - the ability to make screens vibrate to the touch. The company has continued bleeding cash despite being hugely slimmed down since the days when Quad, Mission and Wharfedale were writing the cheques. The speaker technology remains sound, and now HiWave Audio will continue licensing it to companies such as Boston Acoustics - despite being owned by creditor the Greenwich Loan Income Fund - while the newly-formed Redux LLP spins out with an exclusive licence for alternative applications.

Those applications include turning a tablet screen into a speaker, and making it vibrate to the touch: but to make screens feel like buttons one needs to add a little pressure, which is sadly lacking in today's offering.

Your correspondent scored a demo of that tech last year, and came away hugely impressed by the tactile feedback from an on-screen button, but to make that happen the screen had to detect pressure as well as presence - and that's an expensive addition to today's fondleware. HiWave was confident the technology would come, but it didn't, so Redux will be focusing on the anything-is-a-speaker side of things for the moment.

The technology is the same: inducing tiny vibrations into a flat surface which could be the back of a laptop, the screen of a fondlepad or the dashboard of a car. Once the speakers are in place then haptic feedback comes as a freebie, but making it stupendous needs that pressure detection which is still lacking.

Given the failure of HiWave to achieve significant sales we asked Redux (and former HiWave) CEO James Lewis what's changed in the last twelve months to make him so confident of success. We're told that the exciters are smaller, from the size of a 50-pence-piece to half that, and with three times the excitement potential, which is a start. Hardened glass, such as Corning's Gorilla brand, is apparently better at conveying sound and its increasing use in TV screens offers another avenue for sales.

Redux will also be customising each sale, making money from professional services rather than trying to create a product which can be dropped into an existing design, which is slightly ironic as it was demand for professional services which gave NXT such a hard time - NXT wanted to create technologies and licence them, while the licensees wanted NXT engineers to help them get it working.

That's a strategy suited to a smaller company, with fewer people (Redux retains the dozen-or-so headcount of HiWave), but it also limits the global aspirations of world domination.

Lewis reckons we'll see Redux tech in audio products first, speakers built into the screens of next-generation tabs, but - just like last year - he also talks excitedly about an automotive customer who's prepared to put pressure sensitivity into an electronic dashboard, while admitting it will be at least a couple of years before that's in showrooms.

NXT/HiWave/Redux remains a compelling technology, capable of delivering breathtaking demonstrations, but turning those demonstrations into products has proved incredibly difficult. The day when our fondleslabs start fondling back surely isn't far off, but whether Redux lasts long enough to supply the necessary technology is more open to debate. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Things are looking up in Flappy Bird sequel
'Swing Copters' offers the same gameplay but in a different direction
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.