If you own an iPhone, use a gaming console, or wear a smartwatch, you understand the need for haptics.
Haptics are vibration response devices that communicate with users when a specific action occurs. This could be when a phone vibrates for an incoming text or when a controller rumbles when firing an automatic rifle during an FPS game.
Haptic feedback is now part of any user's expectation for how they interact with their device. User desire means that having state-of-the-art haptics is now a way to carve out a market advantage.
This is why companies are set on discovering the best-in-class solutions to enhance haptic capabilities, upgrading things like drive bandwidth, output power, and the ability for custom applications.
The selection of haptic motors is wide, but one option stands out: piezo drivers.
Below, we'll explain what's so special about piezo driver circuits and why they've become integral in modern applications and devices.
What Are Piezo Driver Chips?
Piezo chips, or piezo actuators, are compact motors that produce a voltage that powers haptic feedback mechanisms. Piezo capacitance varies depending on the chip or driver. A lower minimum voltage would be around 20–30 V, while the highest piezo motors operate with a maximum current of up to 1000 V.
The power behind these chips is piezo elements. When placed under stress or pressure, these unique materials produce a voltage known as a piezoelectric drive.
These elements are built into closed-loop control piezo circuits that harness the driving frequency. From there, this frequency powers motor device functions, such as a touch response on a smartphone keyboard.
Piezo chips produce reliable and effective tactile and haptic feedback. But why choose piezo device methods to power haptics? Why not a different form of motor? The answer is that a piezo mechanism holds a few specific benefits over other motors such as LRA and ERM-style.
Benefits of Piezo Driver Chips in Haptic Applications
A piezoelectric drive does more than simply embellish devices with tactile feedback. These chips have clear advantages over other haptic drivers, leading to higher-definition user experiences.
High Precision and Control in Vibrations
Any tech user knows that latency, the time between placing a command and seeing the result, is something to avoid.
Piezo technology is incredibly low latency. It gives near-immediate response times and produces faster acceleration than competing haptic feedback mechanisms.
Additionally, piezo drivers provide more control over how users set up their piezo-powered devices. For example, users can adjust vibration intensity and select control functions based on the force of the touch.
Low Power Consumption and Efficiency
The most common complaint concerning haptics is battery drainage. Historically, haptics swallow up more battery than users would like, as was the case with the iPhone iOS 16 launch.
Piezo abolishes this issue. These drivers use very little power and deliver a maximum drive current.
Compact Size and Low Weight
Small gadget designers, like watches, smartphones, and game controllers, constantly seek to reduce the footprint of internal components. This way, they can use the extra space to enhance other critical parts, like battery capacity.
Piezo electronics leave the smallest footprint out of any piezo motor. With the right design, manufacturers can find a haptic motor that's slim, lightweight, and non-invasive but produces better startup times and more assertive responses than competing methods.
Robustness and Reliability
Piezo materials are simple, durable, and reliable. They're the least likely to fail, and they deliver the broadest range of functionality. Other motors incorporate delicate parts prone to breaking, high latency, or dead spots. With piezo chips, you can expect longevity with consistent results.
Haptic Applications of Piezo Driver Chips
Piezo chips power a wide range of motion controllers and consumer devices. They produce a more immersive user experience, enhanced performance, and greater control flexibility.
From photography to mobile gaming to general accessibility, solid-state piezo buttons offer developers the ability to provide users with more robust customization and more immersive haptic experiences. For example, developers can tailor the settings to create unique tactile feedback on side buttons, varying the sensations based on the specific application in use.
When it comes to wearable devices, whether it's smartwatches, augmented reality gear, robotics, or medical equipment, the integration of piezoelectric haptic technology is a perfect fit. This synergy becomes particularly compelling due to the ease with which we can incorporate buttons into confined spaces, a frequent challenge in the design of compact devices.
In small-scale devices where space constraints are paramount, such as wearable technology, piezoelectric elements emerge as a more appealing choice compared to traditional Linear Resonant Actuators (LRAs). This is primarily because LRAs must adhere to specific weight limits to deliver pleasant vibrations, whereas piezoelectric technology offers greater flexibility and efficiency. Furthermore, piezoelectric haptic technology allows for the creation of localized and customizable tactile feedback, enhancing the user experience in wearables.
Gaming-related piezo is still in its infancy, but there are many promising areas of development. For example, piezo elements can help draw more realistic experiences out of simple controls, like enhancing trigger pressure in FPS games or forming tension when drawing a bow.
When it comes to trackpads, Boréas Technologies' piezo-based technology offers a wealth of functionality that surpasses conventional Linear Resonant Actuator (LRA) trackpads. Notably, Boréas trackpads provide a uniform clicking experience across their entire surface, ensuring consistent feedback for users.
What sets these trackpads apart is their remarkable slim profile, addressing a critical concern for laptop manufacturers seeking to create thinner devices without sacrificing functionality. Moreover, the click response on Boréas trackpads is fully programmable, catering to the specific preferences of individual users. This level of customization empowers users to tailor their experience to their liking.
Perhaps most impressively, Boréas trackpads offer scalability up to a seamless experience, all without significantly inflating the cost. This scalability means that users can enjoy larger, more immersive trackpad surfaces without breaking the bank.
Discover the Next Generation of High-Definition Piezo Haptics
Haptics is all about elevating user interactions. But although piezo chips are the best way to power haptics, not all piezo designs are created equal.
Boreas Technologies leads the pack by offering the market's most impressive piezo solutions. We offer a range of piezo-powered solutions and applications, including:
- Solid-state piezo buttons
In 2023, Boreas introduced its latest innovation, the BOS1921 IC, surpassing its predecessor, the BOS1901. The new chip sets a new standard in sensing technology, enabling us to create seamless trackpads with unparalleled precision and responsiveness.
Boreas also offers the BOS0614, a piezo chip specifically designed for smartphones. It operates on a minimum bias voltage of 3.0 V and produces a maximum current of 90 V. This four-channel high-definition piezo motor delivers the most crisp, responsive tactile feedback while offering up to 10 times the power savings compared to other leading piezo solutions.
If you want to learn more about how Boreas Technologies piezo systems can elevate your devices to produce a market advantage, contact us today or visit our site to request a data sheet and read the benefits for yourself.