Any physical experience that simulates the sense of touch through motors or vibration is known as haptic technology. This experience is also known as a tactile experience that is meant to imitate the human sense of touch. Haptics is one of the most wide-spread technologies in the world, found in touch screens, smartphones, tablets, game controllers, and even car infotainment systems. Haptic technology makes it easier for users to navigate complex and sophisticated interfaces intuitively i.e. by touching different elements in the correct sequence.
Understanding What Haptics Are
We know that we can easily find many instances of haptic technology use in our daily lives. Many of the devices we use for work, learning, or entertainment often use haptic technology to make them easier to use. The feedback sensation that haptic technology provides allows users to interact with many different forms of modern technology. But what is haptics really?
Essentially, this technology is the modern-day equivalent of pressing a physical button or using a physical switch. The nerves in our fingers and hands tell us when we have pressed the button or hit the switch correctly. In the same way, haptic technology allows us to make sure we have interacted correctly with our devices.
But What Does Haptic Mean?
Haptic is a 19th Century word derived from Greek origin. Its roots can be traced to the Greek word haptikos which roughly translates into being able to touch or grasp an object. In many ways, haptics is a form of non-language communication with technology. In the place of verbal or textual interaction, haptics makes use of the simplest and most intuitive medium: the physical touch. Haptic technology isn’t exactly new. It has existed since the 1960s and first saw commercial use in video game arcades in the 1980s. Modern-day technology, especially those featuring touch inputs, usually make use of haptics as well. This includes your phone, tablet, PS4, Xbox, Nintendo, and even your car’s navigation system.
How Does Haptic Technology Work?
Haptic technology acts as a unique bridge between software functions and physical experience. Essentially, when the software receives or executes a command, it sends a physical sensation to the user via the device being used. They do so using a haptic touch. What is a haptic touch? A good example is the touchscreens you find on modern smartphones manufactured by companies like Samsung or Apple. These physical experiences are often the result of a range of technologies in the device, whether through vibration or ultrasound beams.
Let’s take the haptic feedback generated by a typical smartphone. What are haptic alerts? They are a haptic experience generated when a user performs specific actions in software like an app or a mobile game. Most devices also have haptic feedback built into their firmware. This is why you feel a vibration when you long-press the home screen, or press and hold an app.
Examples of Haptic Tech In Use
Modern-day technology is a different breed from that even a few decades ago. It offers a far more sophisticated and feature-enriched experience. Gone are the days of single-function programs. These days, even an app to test internet speeds can perform several other functions as well. One of the reasons devices have haptics is to ensure ease and efficiency in use. Imagine if your smartphone didn’t have haptics. You would have to pay close attention even to simple tasks like switching from 5G to Wi-Fi.
Today we use of haptics in a range of devices. Many of these are part of our daily lives, and we have come to depend heavily on them. When you stop to consider, you’ll find you have been using haptic technology for longer than you know, especially with the following:
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- Arcade games.
- Personal gaming consoles.
- VR controllers.
- Medical equipment.
- Laptop touchpads.
In the absence of the haptics that exists in modern technology, our experience would be very different and very limited. Would you still be able to enjoy Fight Night on your gaming console if you weren’t able to feel feedback in your controller every time you landed a punch or ate one? Would you be able to tell if you correctly tapped on an app or function on your iPhone? Would you be sure you had typed in the right location when setting the navigation in your car? Not as efficiently or as easily as we do now, that’s for sure.