Boby George Cherian: Reintroducing the Sense of Touch To Give Users Natural, Multi-sensory Experiences

As humans, we are born to touch, whether to build relationships, to learn or to interact with our environment. If vision and hearing today have excellent means of transduction, touch is the missing brick of digital technology.

Faced with an ever-digitizing world, Actronika’s mission is to reintroduce the sense of touch and revolutionize human-machine interactions to give users natural, multi-sensory experiences.

At Actronika, we offer a patented HD haptic technology capable of producing high definition textures and effects that can be integrated in any Human Machine Interface: smartphones, automobiles, VR, etc.

Imagine being able to be in a virtual world and still being able to touch the environment or recreating the exact feeling of a button or switch on a smart surface

Tell us about yourself?

I have always loved connecting with people and working together to build something amazing. I am a computer science engineer by background but I have since pivoted to business development once I started my career in France.

Actronika has given me the opportunity to work in a dynamic environment where we are building the future of tech and how humans interact with the digital world around them. This more than anything is the biggest draw for me, since it gives me such a great opportunity to meet so many amazing people with great vision towards how to make the future better for everyone.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The story of Actronika begins in the laboratories of Pierre and Marie Curie University. There, Vincent Hayward, one of our founders teaches haptics (the science of touch) and will file about thirty patents on the subject during his career. With over thirty years of experience on the subject, it was his dream to carry over this sense to the digital world.

To that end he developed haptic actuator, a vibrator technology that integrates into objects and allows to produce high definition tactile sensations. In 2016, he creates Actronika with Gilles Meyer and Rafal Pijewski to commercialize this research.

Since then the team has grown and we have worked to bring this technology to the automotive, VR, luxury and many more industries. Basically if a human is touching the surface, there is potential for haptics to make the interaction more rich and meaningful. We are proud to say that we are one of the few teams who is operating in such a wide variety of industries.

What is your magic sauce?

Our ‘magic sauce’ would be our software control. Early on in our development cycle, we chose to move away from just developing hardware for haptics but to have a more control over the tactile effects we develop. This led to the development of our UNITOUCH platform which is now capable of controlling any vibrotactile actuators in the market.

This has given us a strong USP since we are not limited by the hardware that we use. Depending on the client’s needs and the device that needs to be haptised we can adapt easily to meet that need.

Where do you see your company going in 5 years time?

The haptics market is growing exponentially every year. More and more industries are realizing the importance of the sense of touch.

With the sudden interest in the metaverse, we believe the VR market for haptics is set to grow the fastest. Imagine being able to touch anything you see in virtual reality and it feeling just like you would in the real world. The experience will never be the same again.

There is also tremendous interest in the luxury and automotive industries for high definition haptics. More than just being able to recreate the feeling of something, our sense of touch also allows users to impart a specific emotion. The sense of touch is synonymous with our sense of trust.

In the coming years, we see ourselves solidifying our presence in the industries and become an integral part of the development of new industries.

What has been your biggest setback so far?

The pandemic was a big challenge for us. Haptics is the sense of touch and suddenly no one wanted to touch anything. It was a challenge for us to adapt but it also gave us the opportunity to evaluate our work and focus more on our own products.

We spend the time developing a haptic vest for the VR industry that allows users to touch and feel the virtual world. We also developed several tools to make the whole process of haptic integration and development more easier and economical for the user. It also allowed us to find new markets and industries which we had not considered before.

What is the next big challenge for your business?

We are proud that we are releasing a commercial product out to the market soon. It is the biggest risk that we have taken so far, pivoting from a pure B2B business towards a B2C model for this product.

The team has spend a lot of time in the SKINETIC project. We see it as a huge improvement for the virtual reality industry being able to physically interact with the world around you. With the hype of the metaverse going even more stronger, we see this as a natural development as more and more people interact with the industry and crave more immersion. We plan to do a Kickstarter campaign soon towards completing the development of the project in March.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Reach out to us through our social media or through our website. We are always happy to discuss the technology and how we can use the sense of touch to better improve your interactions with your users and clients.

It is surprising how many of our clients have overlooked this often overlooked sense. People touch and feel everything and it is a sense that people place such an importance on. By enriching the experience, you can entirely change the way users interact with your device or platform.


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