BackerKit

The Sensel Morph: INTERACTION, EVOLVED.

Created by Sensel

The Sensel Morph: INTERACTION, EVOLVED.
Photo original
1,612 backers pledged $442,648.60 on Kickstarter

The first pressure-sensitive, multi-touch input device that enables users to interact with the digital world like never before.

Raised in Kickstarter
$442,648.60 / 1,612 backers
Raised in BackerKit
$74,749.95 / 1,554 backers

Learn About Our Project:

To see some articles that we've been featured in, go to sensel.com/press.

The Sensel Morph offers a new generation of multi-touch interaction, powered by our patented Pressure Grid technology, in the form of an input device that allows people to interact with computers and programs in a whole new way.

With its high dynamic range of force sensitivity, The Morph can detect not just your fingers but any object, from a paintbrush to a drumstick.

The Morph works out of the box with many applications, and it’s also hackable for those more technically-inclined. You can connect it to your computer via USB, to your iPad via Bluetooth, or to your Arduino via developer cables.

Our mission from the start was to address the mismatch between the expressive capabilities of our hands and the restrictive interfaces of today’s devices. We want to enable new ways of interaction with digital devices and allow Morph users to unleash new possibilities in the worlds of music, art, gaming (cue Buzz Lightyear), and beyond!

Best of all, you can use the same device in each of these areas. People today have many hobbies and interests- isn't it time you have a device that literally "Morphs" with your activities?

You can use various Overlays, all which are automatically detected, for each supported use case. The Overlays are optional "physical apps" made of a thin, flexible layer that you can place over the device to provide a visual "map" and tactile feedback for each mode’s unique functionality. Imagine having your art tablet, music production controller, QWERTY keyboard, piano, video game controller (and anything else your mind can fathom) all in one device. If you can imagine something so limitless without your brain imploding, you've imagined the Sensel Morph.

Unlike your typical single-use input device, the Morph is an extremely versatile product. Here are some use cases that we’ll be supporting out of the box:

As time passes we’ll continue to add support for all of your favorite software. Don’t forget to let us know if you’d like the Morph to support a specific program.

Check out some video footage of people using the Morph! Watch Josh Ellingson digitally paint with real brushes, Adriano Clemente, the director of Dubspot Labs, create an original track, Ray Kampmeier control a robot arm, and Joshua Davis create responsive art!

The Sensel Morph comes to life through the use of various overlays - thin, magnetic, flexible, and fully customizable surfaces that turn the device into virtually any tool or instrument imaginable. As you may have already guessed, the name “Morph” came from the realization that each overlay allows the device to morph into a new physical, tactile interface. Using unique magnetic identification codes, the sensor automatically detects each overlay and makes switching modes completely seamless.

With each device that we ship, you’ll be able to choose three overlays out of eight options including: (1) a QWERTY keyboard, (2) music production controller, (3) piano, (4) drum-pad, (5) art overlay, (6) gaming overlay, (7) the innovator’s kit, and (8) one additional overlay which will be chosen by our Kickstarter backers via the Overlay Contest.

We’re developing a simple web-based drag-and-drop interface that will go live when the first batch of devices ship. With this interface, you will be able to design your own overlay without having to do any coding. You will then be able to print them on paper (for use with the Innovators Overlay), or 3D print the overlays yourself. Pretty cool, huh?

One of the most exciting things about Sensel - maybe even more exciting than the Morph itself - is the community we plan to build. Users will not only be able to create new, custom interfaces for themselves using the simple drag-and-drop interface, but they will be able to easily share these interfaces with the entire community of Sensel Morph owners and talk to one another about what they’re creating with the Morph.

After developing early prototypes, we partnered with frog, a world-class design firm, to turn our early concepts into a device that’s ready for consumers. We worked with frog to refine and test core use cases for the Morph. We ended up with a design that is both sleek and functional.

The size of the device is similar to an iPad, which was purposefully done to make the Morph and the overlays easily portable. We found that these dimensions are ideal for two-handed interactions with the device, as well as for many art and music applications. The size is also convenient if you want to use the Morph alongside a tablet.

One of our favorite things about the Morph is that you can combine multiple devices. Below is an example of how we extended our piano -- you can even put four Morphs together to create an instrument with 96 keys -- more than a grand piano!

Beneath the smooth outer surface of the device are approximately 20,000 individual sensor elements at a spacing of 1.25mm (that’s less than 1/16”). We call them “sensels” for short, hence the name of our company.

Unlike other touch technologies, which can only sense conductive objects, each of the sensor elements in our device senses pressure with a high dynamic range. These sensors allow us to capture a high-resolution image of the pressure applied to the device. Highly tuned algorithms on the device take these pressure images and turn them into a list of touch locations, each with their own force and shape information. This touch location data is then used to enable all the applications we’ve described above and is also accessible to developers through our API. Here is what the sensor sees when you interact with a finger, hand or paintbrush:

You may be asking yourself: How can Sensel possibly fit 20,000 individual sensors into a device this compact and why has this never been done before? The reason is that it required three major innovations and a whole lot of elbow grease to make this technology possible - innovations in materials, manufacturing, and electronics. Our team worked closely with a material scientist to custom-formulate a highly-tuned polymer layer which gives each individual sensor element the ability to sense force. This material enables the product to have high sensitivity and a high dynamic range. In other words, it can detect anything from a feather-light tap to a hard push and everything in between (with over 4,000 detectable voltage levels).

Next, we created a new structure that allowed us to take advantage of advanced lithographic manufacturing processes (similar to how circuit-boards and semiconductors are built). In contrast, most force-sensing arrays available on the market today are screen printed (typically on a Mylar™ film), and thus cannot achieve high resolution or consistency, in comparison to Sensel’s process. This process allows us to create a very high resolution array of sensor elements on the same circuit board as the rest of our electronics, hence the 20,000 individual sensor elements.


Every sensor needs electronics to power it, read out signals and interpret those signals. The third major innovation is a new, patented electrical drive scheme and electrical circuitry that allows us to read this high-resolution sensor with commonly available electronic components, quickly and efficiently. This allows us to drive an exceptionally high-resolution sensor at high speed (>125 Hz), low latency (< 8 ms), and low power consumption at an affordable price point. We’ve also thrown in some extras like an accelerometer, LEDs, and Bluetooth LE support (along with a rechargeable battery) for those of you who can’t stand wires.

We also worked with expert mechanical engineers at Hive Design to design an aluminum housing for the Morph which is thin and lightweight, yet provides rigidity (necessary for when you’re really jamming on your device). It also holds the magnets which are used for overlay attachment and looks beautiful alongside your other devices.

We've received questions from our backers about things like compatibility with various art software (such as Photoshop), what it's like to perform music on the morph (in terms of sensitivity and ability to pitch-bend), and about what kind of objects the Morph can pick up. Here are a couple of video responses we've put together to answer some of these questions:

Kickstarter is a place where we know we’ll find people who are always on the lookout for the next big thing, and we think we just might have it. We're excited to see what you do with the Morph with the use-cases we've developed so far, but we're even more excited to see what you come up with on your own. The moment of inexplicable excitement we experience when we see someone create a new tune, new piece of art, new game, new controller, or (best of all) something we'd never have imagined with our technology -- that's why we chose the Kickstarter Community.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

We're Almost There!
4 days ago – Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 11:00:22 PM

Dear backers,

We have some exciting news:  We've just completed our initial 500 unit build!  This means that the devices are still on track to begin shipping at the end of this month throughout the beginning of March.   

Even more exciting news, we've passed FCC testing.  We now comply with FCC part 15B an CE Low Voltage Directive’s EMC requirements.  Some of the testing we did includes Emissions, Immunity, and ESD.  We've also secured the PCBs for the Innovator's Kit.  This adapter allows Morphs to communicate via serial to external embedded devices like Arduinos, take a look!

A Sensel Morph hooked up to an Arduino using the Innovators Kit (PCB, cord, and Innovator's Overlay)
A Sensel Morph hooked up to an Arduino using the Innovators Kit (PCB, cord, and Innovator's Overlay)

 

The PCB for the Innovator's Kit
The PCB for the Innovator's Kit

 

We also wanted to share our latest challenge with you.  Recently we were at a Hackathon and noticed that some of the USBs that we'd planned to ship with the Morphs were having connectivity issues.  We're happy to have caught this issue early, the team sprang into action and ordered higher-quality cords to make sure you have the best possible functionality with your Morph.

We want to thank all of you for your ongoing patience and support.  Without you, our dream to build these devices would never have become a reality.  We can't wait to get the Morph in your hands! 

All the best,

The Sensel team

Overlay Samples In The Flesh!
2 months ago – Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 03:17:55 PM

Dear Backers,

A few members of the Sensel team are hard at work in China as we speak!  They are at our partner's factory, where the first 5 Overlays are currently being made, to make sure that they're as perfect as can be.  We're very happy with the way they came out and hope you are too! Below are some photos from the factory.

 

 

 

Brogan, Stephanie, and some of the factory team in China
Brogan, Stephanie, and some of the factory team in China

 

Brogan and Stephanie testing out the MPC overlay to get the color perfect
Brogan and Stephanie testing out the MPC overlay to get the color perfect

 

Thank you for your continued patience while we perfect the overlays!  We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

All the best,

The Sensel Team

Shipping Update
3 months ago – Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 10:31:44 PM

Dear backers,

First off, we hope you're having a wonderful start to Thanksgiving!

We have some news to share. The good news is that our first round of devices are nearly ready to go. All the parts, including housings, PCBs, batteries, force sensing membranes, cases, and packaging are at our factory and we'll be starting final assembly and test of the first 500 units next week. These units will be completely assembled by early December.

Now for the less good news. The Overlays have been pushing our delivery schedule. We don't want to ship the Morphs without Overlays, since the Overlays are such a crucial part of the device and its "morphability". The first production samples of the Overlays will be arriving at our office from the factory during the month of December and once we give our approval to the factory, production Overlays will arrive a couple of weeks later.

We wanted to make sure the overlay designs were perfect and thus came delays. We've received quality feedback from industry professionals and previous beta testers and wanted to implement all of the feedback received.

Backers who have orders that do not include the below 3 overlays can expect to receive their packages in February. Kickstarter backers who ordered from our Early Bird Special who do not have the below overlays will be the first to get their packages.

Backers who have orders which include one or more of 1) The Drum Overlay 2) The Gaming Overlay 3) The Media Editing Overlay can expect to receive their packages by March.

We'll be making regular updates in the next few weeks as devices enter final assembly and as we receive production samples of our overlays for approval. Thank you for your patience and continued support, and for those of you in the United States, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Best wishes,

The Sensel Team

Palm Rejection Perfected
5 months ago – Fri, Oct 07, 2016 at 04:34:25 PM

Dear Backers (especially the artists!),

In case you've ever wanted to see our Palm Rejection in action -- here you go!  

We've made vast improvements in Palm Rejection since The Morph was first designed.  We tested what overlay thickness and material works best, as different thickness and hardness levels impact the Morph's ability to distinguish palm from pen, and have found the most effective combination.  

If you look closely enough, you can actually see a cluster of dots to the right of illustration appearing throughout the drawing process -- these show the detection, and simultaneous rejection, of the palm.

  

Above you can see our Product Marketing Lead testing out her house-drawing skills on the Morph.  She is using a piece of paper and a regular colored pencil.  Not quite as beautiful as the art you'll make with it, but we tried.

All our best,

The Sensel Team 

Current Testing for The Sensel Morph
5 months ago – Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 05:20:19 PM

Hi all!

We've been super busy preparing for our large manufacturing round and testing the Morph in every way possible.

As part of the extension of the delivery schedule we built in more time to perform reliability testing. We have just completed our first suite of testing and are happy to report the results. Below are some of the tests we've  performed: 

Drop Testing: This test is meant to simulate shipping and normal use. We don't recommend you drop your device, but if it does take a fall you should be happy to know we performed this test! This test revealed an issue that we were able to fix for the final design. 

Below is a video of a portion of the drop testing:

Vibe Testing: We are shipping devices all over the world. Devices experience unique stresses during shipping. This test is meant to simulate the device being tossed around the back of a UPS truck and ground and air freight. We want to make sure the devices are delivered to you safely.

Environmental Testing: Ever leave your phone in a hot car? DJ in 100 degree weather? The suite of environmental testing is meant to make sure that the Morph can handle the wear and tear of everyday life.

FCC: This is still in progress. This makes sure The Morph can handle random radio interference and won't interfere with your other electronics. The preliminary results are great and we will plan on shipping with FCC marks.

Battery Testing: This UN required test is necessary to be able to ship the battery and ensures we comply with international standards for battery safety.

A special thanks to Quanta Labs Silicon Valley, where most of the testing was performed. 

So far, so good! Thank you so much for your patience while we make sure that The Sensel Morph is in tip-top shape to be shipped, we can't wait to get it to you!