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Handheld and Mobility Applications with Vibration Motors

Both haptic feedback and vibration alerting technologies have important roles in handheld equipment. They are easily implemented in a number of applications, and our Application Bulletins are a good starting point for the design.

Below we give examples of vibration alerting and haptics applications. We have also produced a guide to help you understand the differences between the simpler vibration alerting and advanced haptic feedback technology.

Haptic feedback and vibration alerting techniques both use vibration motors for physical actuation.

Vibration Alerting

A small handheld red plastic gas monitor with LCD panel
Vibration alert on a toxic gas detector

Vibration alerting in handheld equipment, such as industrial tools or medical equipment, is a simple and effective way of capturing the attention of the user.

In fact, this is a strong area of growth for alerting functions as traditionally illumination (LED / Lamps) and sirens have been the mainstay of operator feedback for decades. Vibration alerting can replace, or enhance, the audible and visual alerts of many handheld products, including:

  • Gas monitors
  • Tyre gauges
  • Torque wrenches
  • Multi-meters
  • Other instruments, detectors, and monitoring devices

When these products are used within environments which are noisy or require protective and safety clothing, the inclusion of vibration alerting allows the handheld device to inform the operator in a more effective manner. Vibration alerting may also be used in popular consumer devices, some of which are covered in the Haptics section below.

Haptic feedback provides detailed information through varying vibration strengths, frequencies, or patterns. However, vibration alerting is there to grab a user’s attention. It is therefore often better to start with a larger motor and scale the vibration intensity back if it is perceived to be too strong.

Since the vibration alerting motor performance requirements are not as strict as in haptics, the drive circuitry can be simpler making it cheaper and easier to produce. We have application bulletins on discrete motor drive circuits, which can be compared to our advanced haptic feedback control bulletin.

Haptics

A black plastic control stick with colour buttons on top
Haptic vibration feedback on a control stick

An increasing amount of handheld devices are being designed with haptic functions. Many of the industrial devices mentioned in the above Vibration Alerting section can also benefit from haptic feedback. However there are devices in the consumer marketplace that can be improved with a form of advanced tactile feedback, including:

  • GPS units
  • Tablet PCs
  • Desk phones
  • Toys

As more products rely on capacitive touchscreen technology as the primary interface, the haptic feedback element is becoming an increasingly important part of the user experience. Implementing haptics is also great way of differentiating premium products from those which include a simpler vibration alerting functionality.

Precision Microdrives is introducing a new range of motors for use with haptic feedback processors which will make it much easier for designers to add haptics into handheld products. Haptic actuators will be launched under our Precision Haptics range.