Touch the Future with the Forthcoming Sensel Morph
“Human interaction with the digital world can be so much more than just tapping on glass.” So says Aaron Zarraga, CTO and co-founder of Sensel, a Mountain View, California based tech firm. Sensel is developing a next-level input device called the Morph, a piece of equipment similar to a track pad that is embedded with 20,000 pressure-sensitive sensors. Unlike a standard laptop trackpad, though, “we decided we wanted it to be something you could have both hands on,” co-founder and CEO Ilya Rosenberg explains in a hands-on piece that appeared on Engadget on 25 August.
The Sensel team has many years of experience working with pressure-sensitive inputs. The Morph has the ability to detect pressure through layers–tracing an image or text on a piece of paper to create a digital replication would only be the beginning, and Sensel is already far beyond that. According to Nicole Lee at Engadget, who was able to write her review after experimenting with one of the devices, literally anything can be used for input: fingers, a stylus, a paintbrush— she even “tried it out with a water bottle, and sure enough, a round indentation showed up on the screen when I placed it on the Morph’s surface.”
Once it hits stores, the Morph will be available with 3-D printed silicone overlays, flexible covers for the trackpad that can be a regular keyboard, a sound mixing board, a piano keyboard, or potentially any other layout the user desires, or developers create. “We’re building the first physical interface that you can change and upgrade over time,” says Zarraga. “We’re trying to bring physical surfaces up to the 21st century.” The Morph is designed to interface with Windows, Linux, Mac & iOS, and will purportedly be able to support Android as well by the time it ships.
One of the challenges that the Silicon Valley company has faced has been sufficient funding for mass production. For that, they have taken to Kickstarter; from their initial goal of USD$60,000, as of 26 August over USD$190,000 has been pledged, with 43 days remaining on the campaign. The close of fundraising will be on 9 October, at which point Sensel will have until its projected June 2016 ship date to bring this revolutionary new input device to market.