Haptics Technology › What Is Haptics


Haptics is Quite Literally The Science of Touch. 

The origin of the word haptics is the Greek haptikos, meaning able to grasp or perceive.  Haptic sensations are created in consumer devices by actuators, or motors, which create a vibration.  Those vibrations are managed and controlled by embedded software, and integrated into device user interfaces and applications via the embedded control software APIs.

You’ve probably experienced haptics in many of the consumer devices that you use every day. The rumble effect in your console game controller and the reassuring touch vibration you receive on your smartphone dial pad are both examples of haptic effects.   In the world of mobile devices, computers, consumer electronics, and digital devices and controls, meaningful haptic information is frequently limited or missing. For example, when dialing a number or entering text on a conventional touchscreen without haptics, users have no sense of whether they’ve successfully completed a task.

With Immersion’s haptic technology, users feel the vibrating force or resistance as they push a virtual button, scroll through a list or encounter the end of a menu. In a video or mobile game with haptics, users can feel the gun recoil, the engine rev, or the crack of the bat meeting the ball. When simulating the placement of cardiac pacing leads, a user can feel the forces that would be encountered when navigating the leads through a beating heart, providing a more realistic experience of performing this procedure.

Haptics can enhance the user experience through:

  • Improved Usability: By restoring the sense of touch to otherwise flat, cold surfaces, haptics creates fulfilling multi-modal experiences that improve usability by engaging touch, sight and sound.  From the confidence a user receives through touch confirmation when selecting a virtual button to the contextual awareness they receive through haptics in a first person shooter game, haptics improves usability by more fully engaging the user’s senses.
  • Enhanced Realism: Haptics injects a sense of realism into user experiences by exciting the senses and allowing the user to feel the action and nuance of the application. This is particularly relevant in applications like games or simulation that rely on only visual and audio inputs. The inclusion of tactile feedback provides additional context that translates into a sense of realism for the user.
  • Restoration of Mechanical Feel:  Today’s touchscreen-driven devices lack the physical feedback that humans frequently need to fully understand the context of their interactions.  By providing users with intuitive and unmistakable tactile confirmation, haptics can create a more confident user experience and can also improve safety by overcoming distractions. This is especially important when audio or visual confirmation is insufficient, such as industrial applications, or applications that involve distractions, such as automotive navigation.