Nissan integrates tactile feedback into concept car

Immersion Corporation’s haptic controller has been integrated into the steering wheel of a Nissan’s Primera concept car.

Immersion Corporation’s haptic controller has been integrated into the steering wheel of a Nissan’s Primera concept car that was introduced last weekend at the Tokyo Motor Show.

TouchSense technology allows a single interface controller to replace the conventionally complex array of dashboard dials and buttons. The core of the system is a tactile feedback control device that uses tactile sensations to represent different control functions. This controller works in conjunction with a display, giving drivers and passengers control of a variety of functions such as climate control, mobile phone, navigation and audio.

With traditional control systems, adding a new feature meant adding new controls and re-engineering the instrument panel. With Immersion’s programmable control approach, auto manufacturers can change controls in software, often without the need for new switches and displays and corresponding engineering efforts.

BMW has already licensed Immersion TouchSense technology to create an information and control system called iDrive. This system allows drivers to control numerous operations such as climate, entertainment, and navigation parameters with a single control. ALPS Electric, the world’s largest electronics components supplier, is manufacturing the iDrive Controller.

‘Our TouchSense technology allows a single input device to control a large number of diverse functions by matching its feel to the currently selected function,’ explains Steve Vassallo, Immersion’s Director of Mechanical Engineering.

‘If you think about it, drivers are constantly using tactile information,’ he continued.

‘Think of the familiar three-position starter key switch, in which the rotational position of the key tells the driver what the status of the car is based on the way it feels. The first big detent (transient stop) denotes the ‘on’ state, while at the second detent, the driver feels a countering spring indicating the engine is about to turn over. At Immersion, we’re trying to leverage these kinds of familiar tactile ‘metaphors’ so the driver can control various vehicle systems without looking away from the road.’