Home » Decoding haptic technologies beyond smartphones: Virtual touch, genuine feelings.

Decoding haptic technologies beyond smartphones: Virtual touch, genuine feelings.

by Noor Zaman
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Did you know that haptic technologies use ‘speakers’ to mimic the sensation of touch? Learn how it may alter how we engage with technology in the future.

Although they are sometimes used interchangeably when discussing smartphones, haptics and vibrations are actually fairly different. Haptics is the term for information that is communicated by touch, such as the gratifying click you get when pressing a virtual button on your screen or the lifelike recoil you feel when pulling the trigger on your gaming controller. Contrarily, warnings like the buzzing of an incoming call on your phone are vibrations; they only draw your attention.

Vibrations might only be used to alert people to stuff on their phones, but haptics is a different story: the technology has a wide range of potential uses outside of just controllers and phones. For instance, the Royal Institution, a nonprofit organization that promotes public interaction with research, showed how haptics can simulate touch without actual physical contact by employing only forces and vibrations in 2017.

In this article, we’ll look at what haptic technology is, how it might improve our interactions with the digital world beyond smartphones and game controllers, and how it might influence the development of mixed reality, a field that combines the real world and the virtual one.

What exactly is haptic technology?

The use of haptic technologies to improve our contact with the digital world is exciting. By employing various stresses, vibrations, and motions on a person using the technology, they may imitate the sense of touch. This can increase our sense of immersion while using remote control, virtual reality, or gaming applications. You might hear or feel a click or buzz if you press a virtual button on a screen, for instance. When you strike an obstacle while driving a car in a video game, you might feel the steering wheel tremble or oppose your motion.

Haptic technologies come in a variety of forms and can generate various forms of input. To produce vibrations, some people utilize tiny motors that spin or oscillate.

These are also referred to as linear resonant actuators (LRAs) or eccentric rotating mass vibration (ERMV) motors. Others employ thin materials that deform or compress when an electric voltage is applied. These are referred to as piezo haptics sensors.

An innovative subset of haptic technology is mid-air haptics.

Mid-air haptics, a relatively new subfield of haptics technology, is used in the haptics technology exhibited in the movie above. With no wearables or physical contact necessary, this employs ultrasound waves to simulate the sensation of touch in midair. The things that support the technology can be touched and interacted with by users with their hands just like real objects. Think about how natural it would be to feel a virtual object’s shape, texture, and motion with your bare hands, or how a little breeze would feel against your skin. With the help of mid-air haptics, which pressurizes your skin with targeted ultrasonic waves, this is feasible.

Mid-air haptics may produce a focal point of high pressure in the air that can be moved and modified to produce various feelings using an array of ultrasound transducers (or “speakers”). Mid-air haptics can also be linked with other senses, such sight and hearing, to produce rich multimodal feedback. This technology has a wide range of possible uses, including augmenting virtual and augmented reality, developing touchless interfaces, and offering fresh entertainment and educational opportunities.

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