Jun 10, 2021
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
Smartphone users today expect more engaging and nuanced haptics than simple buzzing notifications. Whether playing games or watching movies on mobile devices, users want to feel the realistic sensations of soft approaching footsteps and ground-shaking explosions. When interacting with other apps, users increasingly expect subtle feedback to help them seamlessly navigate essential actions.
For content creators and smartphone manufacturers, delivering these types of high-definition (HD) haptics has been challenging, especially on the Android platform. Consistency has been particularly difficult: Variations in hardware specifications from one Android smartphone to the next have made it nearly impossible to ensure consistent HD haptics across devices.
Qualcomm Technologies has collaborated with Lofelt — a leading haptic technology company — to break through haptic limitations on Android. Lofelt VTX is a new software framework, optimized for use with the Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platform, that empowers content creators and smartphone manufacturers to deliver HD haptics consistently across Android devices.
Introducing Lofelt VTX
VTX is the first and only end-to-end haptics framework to be a member of the Qualcomm Platform Solutions Ecosystem. Tightly optimized for use with Snapdragon and tested by Qualcomm Technologies, it brings premium haptics to Android devices while simplifying the design and delivery of vibrotactile feedback.
With VTX, there are two ways to produce HD haptics. For existing games and apps, it can use patented Lofelt Wave technology to convert the audio stream into vibrotactile feedback in real time, enhancing the game or app experience without requiring any modification or new coding. Alternatively, content creators can employ the open API and data model with their preferred authoring environments to easily design customized haptics for their game or app. Both methods use the patented Lofelt Adaptive Experience (AX) technology, which optimizes tactile experience for each device.
Facing the challenges of hardware variations
The flexibility that the Android platform provides for hardware design has presented a significant challenge for the progress of HD haptics in the Android ecosystem. A content team might initially design and test haptics on a particular Android smartphone model. But there is no guarantee that the experience will be felt the same way on other models — or even other units of the same model, since there might be variation in manufacturing tolerances.
To deliver the same experience across devices, that team would have to test on many different models and potentially code different assets for distinct devices. In practice, few developers would consider this process worth the effort. But the alternative is limiting haptics to very basic experiences that work reasonably well on all devices — experiences that underwhelm users.
Smartphone manufacturers face similar challenges. How can they ensure that you will deliver consistent, high-quality haptics across all your devices when they have a variety of sizes, masses, and internal designs?
Delivering consistent experiences across devices with adaptive technology
At the center of Lofelt VTX is an advanced signal processing technology called AX, specifically developed to address the problem of hardware variations. Lofelt AX converts a universal haptic signal into a hardware-specific haptic signal. It identifies key parameters of the haptic driver and actuator employed by a particular device, and its algorithms generate an optimal signal for producing the best performance for that device.
To transmit the design intent of content creators to each device, AX uses a lightweight, descriptive haptic file. The file denotes universal parameters, such as whether the haptics should include smooth, continuous signals or more punchy, dynamic events. Content creators can author that file using Lofelt Studio or another tool and audition advanced tactile effects on a single development smartphone knowing that VTX will always deliver the best possible signal on any device.
VTX gives content creators greater confidence that the haptics they create will be played back consistently across devices. They can eliminate time-consuming, device-specific coding, and also avoid having to cater to the lowest common hardware specifications.
At the same time, the framework benefits smartphone manufacturers by ensuring efficient and safe developer interaction and also maximizes the value of high-quality haptic components. Manufacturers can select best-in-class haptic drivers and actuators knowing that it will help deliver the best possible user experiences.
Reaching across the Android ecosystem with Snapdragon
Pairing Lofelt VTX with the Snapdragon mobile platform helps make the most of the smartphone’s haptic capabilities. The Qualcomm Hexagon DSP and Snapdragon architecture allow VTX to run efficiently with virtually no performance trade-offs. In addition, tight integration with the audio subsystem also allows for accurate syncing between audio and haptics. With access to VTX, OEMs can deliver premium experiences for haptics on smartphones just as they can for photography, audio and more by using tech breakthroughs from Qualcomm Technologies.
Getting started with Lofelt VTX
With VTX, smartphone manufacturers and content creators now have a more powerful and simpler way to meet user expectations for rich, engaging HD haptics on Android smartphones.
Experience demos of Lofelt VTX on the latest Snapdragon 888 and Snapdragon 778G platforms today. Contact Lofelt for more details.