What do you do when you have direct access to one of the leading premium haptic technology manufacturers in the world? You ask them every question you can think of! Catapulting off of our haptics Q&A from February, we had another chat with the folks at Cirrus Logic to discuss where they believe the future of haptic technology may be headed. Here's what they had to say:

Q: Has haptic technology peaked, or have we just scratched the surface of what it can do?

Haptics have just started to scratch the surface. There are all kinds of innovations happening from an industrial design perspective. OEMs are moving away from fixed buttons to smart surfaces, and these smart surfaces need sensing and tactile feedback in order to be interactive while incorporating sleek, industrial designs.

In the haptics ecosystem, advances in actuator technology and haptic APIs are being embedded into operating systems, such as Android 12. From the haptic IC side, significant investment in dedicated haptic controllers with advanced closed loop actuator control are also prominent.

With the advancements in dedicated haptic controllers, a feature-rich software offering, and advanced toolchains, OEMs can create whatever effects they want and really augment the user experience not just for button replacement, but for consuming content on mobile phones, from feeling explosions or car engines when watching a movie, to experiencing gunshots and tank rumbles when playing a game. This is a far cry from old ERM-style buzzes, which the user typically turned off.

UX designers are using haptics to create immersive tactile experiences to compliment both visual and audio elements. Cirrus Logic’s haptic controllers can interface with new haptic APIs and deliver pre-stored effects or generate new content on the fly whilst delivering consistent and crisp performance.

Q: What other products or industries could haptics be incorporated into that aren’t currently supported?

As stated in the previous answer, these technological advances mean that haptics are starting to penetrate all forms of consumer electronics and automotive applications. We are seeing demand in wearables where smartwatch OEMs are using haptics to replace mechanical buttons and have customized tactile alerts so the user knows what alert, ringtone, or notification they have received without having to look at their watches. Laptops are switching out their old trackpads in favor of haptic-enabled options to help reduce the thickness of their industrial designs, as well as enhancing the user experience by employing different click effects and strengths — something a mechanical trackpad cannot achieve. AR/VR applications are also adopting haptics to augment the user experience in both headsets and gaming controllers.

Cirrus’ haptic controllers are finding their way into many of these new haptic-enabled consumer products due to the complete offering of advanced mixed signal processing, boosted technology, and advanced closed loop algorithms that ensure best-in-class performance, thus leading to world-class user experiences.

Q: What is Cirrus Logic doing to bring its own haptic technology to more industries?

Cirrus Logic is working closely with OEMs in key consumer markets to deliver best-in-class haptics to their devices in a way that benefits industrial design (by enabling virtual buttons) and that also delivers exceptional user experiences that drive consumer interests. From supporting trackpads, to smartwatches to AR/VR applications, we can enable OEMs to develop customized haptic experiences and utilize the flexibility in our architecture to support the wider ecosystem of actuator technologies and haptic APIs. We are working to deliver innovative products and features that are synergistic to these different markets.

Q: How is Cirrus Logic pushing haptic technology forward?

Cirrus Logic are investing in a portfolio of products to service different markets and applications. We are committed to delivering differentiation in both silicon and software to drive new features and innovation in consumer electronic products.

It’s really a huge system play where the haptic driver is in the middle, controlling sensor inputs and haptic effects. So Cirrus works closely with OEMs, actuator manufacturers, and sensor manufacturers to leverage technological advances and ensure that we deliver world-class haptic-enabled products.

Q: Where does Cirrus Logic see itself in the next 10-30 years?

Elevating the user experience in how consumers interact with their electronic devices is at the heart of what makes Cirrus Logic unique — world-class, low-power, mixed-signal products that bridge the analog world around us with the digital world as experienced through our technology. Fueling demand for our audio and high-performance, mixed-signal solutions is the desire of our customers to bring innovative and immersive user experiences to the marketplace.

Cirrus Logic are capitalizing on near-term opportunities by growing our existing portfolio of product solutions into new technology categories — including haptic drivers and sensing solutions — while also investing in next-generation components and new technologies that we believe are important for our continued long-term success. While audio remains an important growth vector, we believe our innovations in new high-performance, mixed-signal technologies will continue to drive product diversification and fuel exciting avenues of growth in the coming years.

Learn more about Cirrus Logic

If you didn't know, Cirrus Logic's premium haptic technology has made quite a few waves in the Android market. For instance, their technology has been featured in some of the latest devices to offer exceptional haptic experiences from OEMs like Samsung and Google. If you'd like to learn even more about how Cirrus Logic drives premium haptic experiences, check out their website here.

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