What's that, you're not into changing the channel with that boring old remote, or even with your voice? Murata's ground-up Tactile Controller brings a real twist to every couch potato's favorite gadget. Quite literally. The company's prototype remote uses touch-pressure pads and pyroelectricity to analyze the position of a piezoelectric film. In English: a plastic film produces tiny amounts of electricity at various voltages (output as data) when it's forced into a variety of positions, letting you change the channel simply by twisting the controller in either direction, or flexing to adjust volume. The model we saw was a plastic sandwich of sorts, and also included four solar cells, capable of producing one milliwatt of electricity -- just enough to power the device.
We put the controller through its paces at the company's CEATEC booth, adjusting a TV's volume and channel up and down, and, well, up and down, since that's just about all you can do with the thing. The model we saw only supported five twist positions and four bending positions in each direction, so it could theoretically adjust those two basic settings more quickly based on how much pressure you put on the film, but realistically can't do much beyond that. The Tactile Controller on display here is more of a proof of concept of sorts -- with the concept being the plastic film technology itself, and not the battery-free remote control, which the company decided would be the most visual application for testing its new film, though not necessarily the most practical. Understandably, Murata doesn't have any plans to release the remote that we saw today, but you can jump past this to see us do the twist.