Time for an update, since our last article on Immersion Corporation (NASDAQ:IMMR).
The stock recently hit a new 52 week high, and has been trading within a nice uptrend since the beginning of the year, as you can see from the following chart:
If success can also be judged by the fact that your customers keep promoting your technology on behalf of you, we could probably say that Immersion has finally reached an inflection point and is being recognized as a “must have” partner in the fast growing touchscreen market.
Densitron, one of the largest European manufacturers of display technology excelling in both off the shelf and custom specified solutions for the Telecom, medical, marine and industrial markets, and publicly traded on AIM, the London Stock Exchange’s international market for growing companies, recently announced a 7" Projected Capacitive touchscreen solution incorporating haptics:
TouchSense to differentiate Densitron displays in medical equipment, scientific instruments, industrial controls solutions and gaming.
Integration of Immersion’s haptic technology will offer the feel of traditional mechanical buttons , sliders and dials resulting in a solution that provides OEMs design flexibility and greater panel control durability while offering a more satisfying user experience.
"Immersion’s haptics technology is an excellent complement to our touch panels,” said Greg Hayes, President, Densitron America. “By leveraging touch feedback, we’re able to provide manufacturers and designers with cost effective solutions that will differentiate their products and are intuitive to use.”
AdvanPOS, a relatively young company offering a range of POS products and headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan, recently won two Computex Taipei Design & Innovation Awards. This is how AdvanPOS describes its Force Feedback Monitor, winner of one of the awards:
Force Feedback Monitor features the patented Force Feedback design which enhances the interest and easiness for human-machine interaction. When users press a specific key, a force feedback effect will be delivered to the user’s finger for unmistakable confirmation. It expands usability when audio and visual feedback is limited by giving the user certainty that the system is keeping up with their selections. The small footprint makes it suitable for limited workspace while the cable-less modular design enables simple peripheral connection and maintenance. The front panel is constructed of robust and recyclable aluminum with IP65 certified.
Artificial Muscle Inc., a Bayer (OTCPK:BAYZF) MaterialScience LLC company, engaged in the commercialization of Electroactive Polymer Artificial Muscle (EPAM) technology, and an announced Immersion's partner, recently issued a press release about ViviTouch, a next-generation technology that allows device makers to create a mobile gaming experience that can rival console gaming.
The press release clearly indicates that Immersion's technology is needed for achieving the full spectrum of high-fidelity effects that EPAM technology can help deliver:
The jump from traditional rumble to ViviTouch is like the leap from black-and-white to color TV.
Currently, there are several integrations of the ViviTouch actuator that are available. For example, the Device Shaker Design uses ViviTouch to precisely move an inertial mass to provide an incredible level of feedback that can be felt in a user’s hand. The Moving Touch Screen Design also uses the same actuator to provide a direct tactile response to the user by moving the touch surface, such as a smartphone screen. A technology license to Immersion’s TouchSense® can be bundled with ViviTouch.
The Mophie Pulse case is an interesting device that will bring the ViviTouch technology to our iPhone or iPod touch. According to Slashgear, “the new case promises to bring “bone-shaking” vibrations and “pulse pounding” stereo sound that transfers what’s happening in your games into a more immersive experience.”
The Densitron 7" inertial demo, and the Mophie Pulse gaming case with ViviTouch technology were also shown by Immersion at Display Week 2011 as an example of products that can prove what adding haptics to a touch screen surface can mean for consumers.
With custom vibrations, we can change the standard vibration and assign vibrations to individual contacts — just like we’ve been able to do with ringtones all along. Apple is providing a handful of pre-made vibrations, but it also provides a custom vibration recorder which has you tap in a pattern. It’s more fun than it sounds.
This means that we can now identify who is calling us in a loud nightclub or when our phones are on silent. It’s a small gain, but if you’re used to deciding whether to take your phone out of your pocket based on which ringtone is playing you’ll probably quite like this new feature.
While Apple (AAPL) is not an Immersion's licensee, there is no doubt that seeing this great company interested in adding vibrations to its touchscreen range of products and working on patents covering haptic feedback is a strong testament that this kind of technology is headed from being almost unknown to be part of most people's daily habits (think mobile phones, ATMs, car interiors, gaming consoles, etc.). Immersion's strong IP can only benefit from more demand/research for haptics.
As Touch Panel demand is predicted to soar to $23.9 billion by 2017, Immersion remains positioned to take full advantage of this trend, now with a solid royalty based business model that should allow the company to deliver very positive financial results in the next few years.
Disclosure: I am long IMMR.