OUR COMPANY

TACTAI is pioneering the world's first haptic engine for wearable devices and touch screens that enables users to touch, feel and interact with virtual objects with life-like realism.

The company's patent-pending Dynamic Tactile Wave™ technology creates multi-modal experiences by fully engaging the user's senses and bringing touch, sound, and light together. The company's products help create compelling immersive experiences in traditional touch-based tablets and mobile phones and in the emerging platforms for applications in Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality.

Applications include immersive gaming, e-commerce, training, film, architecture, and education.

OUR VISION

Tactai delivers natural immersive interaction in touch computing and in VR/AR

All current human expression in the digital world is based on just two of our senses: vision and hearing. It lacks one of our most powerful senses - touch - which is the first sense to develop in the womb and the last sense to leave you. It is the only sense you cannot turn off. We believe that for a virtual experience to be truly immersive and compelling, you have to interact with your virtual world much like you would with the real one - with every one of your senses, including touch, and using natural movements.

This is why we created Tactai Touch™: a touch-based naturally immersive interface technology. It is a first-of-its-kind, embedded haptic engine that enables users to interact with their hands and fingers with touch screens or in VR/AR. With Tactai Touch™, when you reach out and touch a virtual object, you feel it; you can grasp it, and interact with it as though it was real.

With approximately 3.2 billion people (41% of the population of planet Earth) currently online, the impact of a device capable of enabling touch in the digital world naturally and realistically is transformational.

Vision Today: Touch screens can do better

Touch screens today are limited in that they appeal to our visual and aural senses but not to our sense of touch. Touch can bridge the gap to credibility and presence to make user experiences more compelling and engaging.

Vision for Tomorrow: VR/AR is a new computing paradigm that needs a new interaction model

Over the past 60 years, we have seen the evolution of computing from mainframes to personal computers, to smartphones and tablets and more recently wearables. But for every new computing paradigm that has emerged, a new interaction model is required to take full advantage of the new technology. The user interface has evolved from paper punch cards to peripheral devices like mice and keyboards, to controllers and touch screens.

VR has ushered in the era of what we call "immersive computing" and although most of the world is trying to interact with applications in VR with head-mounted-displays (HMDs) and hand-held controllers with buttons to click on, we believe this interaction model is severely limiting. Leaving your hands, which are arguably the most important element of human interaction, out of VR, makes the experience less than immersive for several reasons:

  • The experience is limited to sight and sound - both of which we have had for 125 years!
  • The use of buttons and hand-held controllers to interact with applications is a carry-over from console games based on an obsolete interaction model which contradicts immersion; instead of staying in the immersive state, buttons require you to control your virtual world from actions performed in the real one
  • Hands are an essential part of our virtual personas in the immersed state and today, hands and fingers are not generally part of the experience. VR requires the physical dimension of touch that only the hands can bring. Touch is a must to create "presence" in VR. And presence drives adoption

LEADERSHIP

Our team combines world-class experts in haptics, virtual reality, software development, industrial and micro electronics design . Together, we dream to bring true expressive power to the virtual world.

Steven D. Domenikos

CEO / Founder

Steven has built from ground zero and sold successfully four technology companies. As the founder and CEO of Tactai, he has brought together a world-class team uniquely equipped to address the challenge and make TactaiTouch™ a reality. Steven also serves as the Chairman of IERION, a Boston-based technology incubator focusing in wearable technologies. Steven attended Northeastern University where he graduated with a BS and an MS in Computer Engineering with honors. He is also a 2012 Harvard University graduate of the Advanced Leadership Institute and a 2012 Fellow. Steven serves as an international trade advisor on internet technology and electronic services for the US Department of Commerce. He holds 12 US Patents in networking, security, and internet technologies with several more pending, and he is a member of several advisory and industry boards.

Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist / Founder

Katherine is a recognized authority in haptics and in robotic systems that enable a user to touch virtual objects and distant environments as though they were real and within reach. Katherine received her BS in Mechanical Engineering, an MS in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She has won numerous awards, including the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Academic Early Career Award - 2012, Citation for Meritorious Service as a Reviewer for the IEEE Transactions on Haptics - 2011 and 2008, PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellow - 2011, Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising - 2010, NSF CAREER Award - 2009, and many others.

Ilann Derche

Vice President, Product Development

Ilann has in-depth product management experience in delivering complex, high-end, extremely reliable products. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Ecole Superieur d'Ingenieurs Leonard de Vinci, Paris France, an MBA from HEC University in Montreal, and a Certificate in Marketing from the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris, backed by ten years of product development and management experience in the Business Aircraft industry working as a product management executive at Bombardier Airspace.

Shyam Kamadolli

Chief Business Officer

Shyam Kamadolli has been a technology entrepreneur, investor and deal maker for over 20 years. Most recently Shyam was with Fidelity Investments' Eight Roads and F-Prime Capital platforms, where he led venture capital investments in technology across three funds that spanned the US, Europe and Asia. Previously, he led worldwide business development for the data security division of RSA Security. Shyam received a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Bombay, a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University, and dual MBA degrees from Columbia Business School and London Business School.

OUR TIMELINE

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.