Pressure sensitive mobile devices (Sensel touch&Co)

Edit: Continuation from Artiphon Orba (just launched on Kickstarter)

First search result. Hang on, I’ll find something better…


Here we go.

They were showing this a year ago, at CES. Trick is, everything’s a manufacturing partnership. So, these are features to expect on the next phone from Samsung, or whoever. As opposed to, say, a self contained controller platform from Sensel. It’s not the morph 2.


Interesting, didn’t see this yet!
If Morph-like touch phones (or even better: tablets) would become popular (and Android device companies finally start to care about latency…) then this could become a second springtime for phone/tablet/touch-monitor-as-a-musical-device. This time not (only) as a synth but as a playing surface.
A mass-produced (and thus payable) 32:9 49 inch “tablet” with that technology would be so cool!
Ok, that form factor probably isn’t at the top of the manufacturer’s lists. Pretty pitty. But ok :slight_smile:

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I agree. And you saw in that first video, they are working on haptic feedback.

But it’s also sort of telling that they’ve been bringing this to tradeshows for over a year, and their existing customers have heard almost nothing about it.

I mean, if your mobile device has these capabilities, someone will code the next Beatsurfing, or TouchOSC, or whatever. They don’t need to involve themselves on the software side; these things will just happen.

But interfacing with your computer - such a primary concern for the morph and its users - isn’t a consideration here, and it isn’t Sensel’s problem.

I’m not sure how to split it, but we should probably move all this talk to a “pressure sensitive mobile devices” thread. It couldn’t have less to do with the Orba.

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Good idea, split it up.
Not sure whether Sensel has found a partner to build such a phone or tablet with yet. Are these all technology demos to attract potential partners or are they already one step further?
If they already found somebody I could imagine that we won’t hear much of it until it’s ready for purchase, big mobile companies probably don’t want suppliers to spill beans about upcoming devices.

If not I honestly wouln’t understand it. The only reason why many still consider to buy a new smartphone nowadays is that official OS support for the old ones ran out. Here they would have something new at hand that might actually be worth considering an upgrade again. If they can find some convincing initial “it’s already worth it for that thing alone” applications. The rest would probably happen automatically if devs get time and devices (who also have an opportunity to create something that at least initially sticks out of the ocean of apps), agreed!

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I buy new phones when it becomes too expensive to maintain old phones. e.g., when the screen is broken and the cost of fixing that exceeds what I could sell it for, or what I’d save by trading it in for an upgrade.
Thus far, this still outraces official OS support running out.

That’s sort of my problem with all of this – I regularly break phones. I’ve yet to destroy a Morph controller, but there’s no glass involved!

Also worth mentioning, OS updates are far less optional on a phone than a tablet. And that’s important. (see “Apple discontinued one of the technologies that Beatsurfing relied on, so the app doesn’t exist anymore”)

So… yeah. I could see wanting to invest in a tablet, or even an “iPod Touch” style device, but would be reluctant to pay extra for that on an actual phone.

more often than not you can buy a replacement with a screen installed on the frame on aliexpress, for reasonable money - the screen isn’t the priciest part - the motherboard is.

Then you just move the motherboard and all the other parts to a new frame and screen.

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Point well taken! But we’ll see if this remains true with the hypothetical SenselPhone. (eg, a pressure sensitive touchscreen that curves around the sides of your device)

Side note (literally a side note):

Wrapping glass around the edges of your phone pretty much quadruples the chances of cracking your screen when it drops.

What once was a single face you’d hope it not land on is suddenly five.

That’s kinda terrifying.

Yepp, these fully glass covered phones are imho nothing else than planned obsolescence.
Best thing would be if people wouldn’t buy those (it is a nogo for me).
Second best thing would be if drop tests from up to 2m would have to be considered a use case covered by warranty to reduce waste. I am sure we would immediately see phones that don’t look much worse and just don’t break…

Even though the Sensel video shows touch buttons simulated particularly at the edges I see no reason why these couldn’t just be placed at the usual screen.

My impression of Sensel has always been that attracting OEM partners was their main intent. In some ways the Morph was just a demonstration of their technology, albeit one that was actually a consumer product, but I think their grand plans were always about partnerships and licensing the underlying technology.

Its impossible for me to judge their success in this area, I expect it is tricky. Meanwhile the whole music controller overlay side of the Morph seems to have been far more successful for them than the other uses/overlays they tried, so they lost interest in non-music overlays and did a deal to do the Buchla Thunder overlay a while ago.


That drawing surface where one can paint with a usual brush would actually have been very cool. Apparently they are not selling it anymore, probably too much of a challenge to get this right.
Besides that I’m not sad about the new music focus :slight_smile:

3D Touch may be going away from Apple phones, which is a drag as it makes for nice controller use. It was difficult for me to give up the 3D on my iPhones when I moved to the 11 (I needed the dual SIM and better camera).

3D Touch was as far as I read based on four actual pressure sensors? If true then the Sensel technology should be a lot nicer!
Their parade showcase of being able to paint on it with a usual brush (showing that the resolution is fine enough to detect single hairs) actually didn’t work too convincing (probably partly due to lacking support from painting apps), but besides that it’s quite neat!
The initial Morph was only partly meant as an instrument. So currently you can switch between high resolution and low latency mode (250 Hz vs 500 Hz scan rate). Would be interesting which scan rates would be possible if this is a design goal of the hardware? Could be nice for a Continuum-style “we measure the attack curve with pressure events” approach.
For a phone I wouldn’t expect higher rates than on the current Morph though, would likely drain the battery faster, and 250 Hz is plenty for most use cases.

It worked great, on their demo software. The problem is, they weren’t developing a painting app, and the software that people wanted to use didn’t support that level of granularity. Converting physical brush strokes into the signals that a wacom stylus would have sent did get the job done. But, now you’re a copy-cat device in a market wacom dominates.

I’d guess the scan rate would be configurable, but that an app would have to initially ask permission before raising it, and issue a warning reminder for subsequent uses.

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