Samsung debuts touchscreen phone with force feedback

Posted by Mark Raby

San Jose (CA) - Immersion said that Samsung's SCH-W559 cellphone is the first device to make use of its "VibeTonz" technology. The device integrates a "unique" touchscreen that comes with "tactile feedback" features to add a new twist to the general use of a cellphone.

Currently only available in China, the SCH-W559's VibeTonz (pronounced "Vibe Tones") feature tries to provide physical feedback to the user in order to make the use of the phone easier and create a more realistic "feel" of applications.

The SCH-W559 comes with a large 260,000 color QVGA LCD touchscreen and much of the standard phone functions can be handled via stylus controls. The truly unique feature, however, is the integration of physical feedback on an otherwise flat surface. According to Immersion, virtual buttons feel like actual, mechanical keys - an approach that is reminiscent of the force-feedback mouse concept that tried to gain support in the second half of the 1990s, but disappeared from the market before the turn of the century. At the time, Immersion claimed that adding physical sense to plain eye-sight can simplify the use of applications.

 

 

 

VibeTonz also adds an array of unique features to the phone, including a Playstation 2-like force-feedback during mobile games and enhanced playback of ringtones that add "more depth" to polyphonic or MP3-based tones. More of the one-of-a-kind features include vibrating feedback to let the caller know when a call is connecting, or when a call gets dropped. The phone also offers a 1.3 megapixel digital camera, a pre-installed media player, wireless Bluetooth technology, and handwriting recognition for text-based touchscreen applications.

Currently carried exclusively through Samsung phones, the VibeTonz technology is making a quiet entrance to the US market, with compatible phones including the SCH-n330, a930, and 870. The W559 in China marks the first to use the touchscreen features offered by VibeTonz since the technology was first shown last June.