This startup just raised $5M to help you feel the texture of objects on your smartphone

by Sam Dewey
June 24, 2015



The horse race to become the king of next generation technology is underway, and many investors are putting their money on the pioneering and transformative science of haptic technology.

That’s the case for Tanvas (previously known as Tangible Haptics), who announced yesterday they have raised a $5M Series A round, led by R7 Partners with participation from Peak6, Northwestern University, and two Silicon Valley venture investors.

Haptic technology allows users to physically interact with their touchscreen devices. It might sound like science fiction, but with Tanvas’ high-resolution touch effects, a consumer will be able to feel the texture of objects on the screen. That means you can tangibly sense things like weight, pliability, stickiness, and all kinds of texture under the sun just by sliding your fingertips across a display screen.

"The major drawback of touchscreens has always been the missing element of physical feedback," said Greg Topel, CEO of Tanvas, in a statement. "We constantly interact with the world through the sense of touch. Yet until now, that has not been possible in our electronic devices. Tanvas finally empowers touchscreens what we didn't know we were missing: true interaction with what you see."

The technology enables kids to ‘pet’ exotic animals, allows shoppers to compare clothing textures before making a final purchase, and even helps people with visual impairments navigate display devices—all via sense of touch.

Tanvas technology marries multi-touch position sensing and control over friction forces that act on a user’s fingers as they scroll across the screen. Using advanced algorithms, haptic technology can harmonize those forces so that users actually feel like their touching something in 3D.

The Chicago-based startup plans to use the funding to expand its development team as it readies to take its patented technology to market.

Tanvas is currently displaying this next gen tech at the IEEE World Haptics Conference in Evanston, IL, where tech giants from around the world have gathered. The conference lasts until June 25.


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