Before 2014

Early research

Dr. Katherine J. Kuchenbecker leads research in haptics at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania where she serves as an Endowed Chair Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Katherine is considered the world’s leading authority in haptics and a leader in scientific research. She has published over 100 research papers on the science of touch and touch related.
September 2014

Founding of Tactai, Inc.

Tactai, Inc. founded by Steven and Katherine with a vision to bring the missing sense of life-like touch to the digital world. Steven, a tech entrepreneur and a computer engineer by background, sponsored the initial research at University of Pennsylvania for developing a miniaturized prototype to prove the vision. Research commences in developing a first of its kind, compact wearable device to bring high fidelity touch to many online experiences.
January 2015

Early prototypes

The team’s dedication and hard work yielded many new insights on how humans expect to interact with objects in the virtual world. An initial device was developed that captures, digitizes and transmits the natural touch sensation as we interact with real world objects through our fingers. This digitized and transmitted touch experience is then reconstituted and replayed by a receiving device which can be far away, incorporating a range of actuators that through careful orchestration are able to play back convincingly the original experience.
June 2015

First US NSF Award

After a winning proposal submitted by the team, Tactai was awarded a Phase I NSF grant to further advance the research in the technology.
July 2015

Initial Seed Funding

On the heels of the prototype demonstrations and the NSF award, the company obtained seed funding from high caliber private investors. Several new members with world class credentials both in science and business joined the team. The combined funds fueled the team’s resolve to think for how to develop a commercial product that could be used eventually by millions of people to create and share a whole new set of powerful experiences that for the first time go beyond the visual and audio to incorporate the physical dimension of touch. Virtual Reality is all the hype and clearly is missing touch. After a considerable market outreach and market testing, Tactai decided to focus its initial product to bring touch to the emerging VR/AR space. This is TactaiTouch™
Dec 2015

Demonstrable Prototype

By this time, the team is able to show its first working prototype of TactaiTouch™ which is still in use at the company’s office. This is the first of its kind, fingertip wearable device that enables users of a VR headset to actually touch, feel, grasp and interact with virtual objects as if they were real. It is enormously satisfying to see and hear users reactions of disbelief as the come in contact for the first time with an object that they can see through a VR headset but it is not really there
May 2016

First industrial prototype

After 5 months of intense effort since the first demonstration of TactaiTouch™ lab prototype, the team delivered its second version. After several industrial design iterations, V2 of TactaiTouch™ emerged as very compact, inexpensive device that can be comfortably worn by users to truly provide an immersive VR experience like never before. TactaiTouch™ brings the hands into VR/AR with sub 1-mm tracking, and makes it possible for the hands to actually feel! This is the first use case for VR/AR. Instead of using the rather obsolete interaction paradigm of a button-based handheld controller with a modern VR headset, TactaiTouch™ enables natural interaction control where you can actually click, and push virtual buttons (like a virtual keyboard) and you feel it! Tactai brings the hands into VR like never before.
September 2016

Additional US NSF funds

After a second winning proposal, the company was awarded a Phase II NSF grant to help advance the technology and prepare for commercialization. Tactai is working with several major partners across the VR/AR ecosystem to bring the technology of touch in the hands of millions of people, helping to augment our communications and enrich our interactions.
January 2017

Customer Launch at CES 2017

Along with our first customer, Ericcson, we presented one of the most exciting technology innovations at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. A fully interactive and immersive VR experience allowed users to browse a media library using their hands and fingers instead of controllers. They could view 2D videos but interact with virtual objects in them as though they were 3D and real. Objects could be touched, textures sensed, picked up, moved, stacked and thrown. Several tours at CES made us a key stop and we had the honor of hosting several Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrity visitors who came to experience one of the most talked about technologies at CES.