How being part of two ambitious FET-Open projects helped haptics company Ultrahaptics accelerate innovation and commercial development.

Ultrahaptics logo

Ultrahaptics’ technology enables users to receive haptic feedback without the need for wearables or handheld devices. Their patented technology uses ultrasound to project sensations through the air and directly onto the user’s hands. Users can ‘feel’ touchless buttons, get feedback for mid-air gestures or interact with virtual objects.

Ultrahaptics was founded in 2013 based on technology originally developed through an ERC project at the University of Bristol. Today, the company has raised over £65 million in funding, employs over 100 people worldwide, is engaged with many automotive blue-chip clients, OEMs and tier 1 suppliers and collaborates in research with more than 60 universities.

Being an active partner in two FET-Open H2020 research and innovation projects (Levitate and H-Reality) has been instrumental in creating this rapid growth and success.

H-Reality combines Ultrahaptics’ contactless haptic technology and Actronika’s contact haptic technology with three academic partners who will focus on the mathematical and tribological modelling of the skin, the mechanics of touch and the psychophysical rendering of tactile sensations. The aim is to create a more complete and compelling simulation of tactile experiences than has ever been possible before.

Levitate is creating a radically new human-computer interaction paradigm where the user can reach into a three-dimensional display composed of levitating matter. The three core technologies that come together are ultrasonic haptics, parametric audio, and ultrasonic levitation. These technologies are being researched both from a physical and multimodal user experience angle by a consortium of four academic partners and Ultrahaptics.

Being part of these two ambitious FET-Open projects has without doubt enabled the Ultrahaptics company to position itself as a research leader in the emerging field of haptics and human-computer interaction. It has also enabled rapid technology advancement in high-risk high-return research directions.

Ultrahaptics' academic partners are experts in using their technology and have helped them significantly advance, validate and showcase it at numerous high-profile events such as the ICT 2018 event that took place in Vienna.

"It would have been impossible for us to have come so far so fast without the support we’ve got from the FET Open projects", says Ultrahaptics. "It’s not just about the funding we’ve received – though of course this has been useful – but also the people and organisations we’ve been able to collaborate with".

EU-funded R&D efforts and commercial success have gone hand in hand at Ultrahaptics over the last five years – and this is just the beginning.