What is haptic technology ?


3 min read

Virtual and mixed reality technology has mastered the art of convincing our brains that virtual environments and the objects contained within them are actually right in front of our eyes.


The use of motion tracking technology in conjunction with controllers simulates player hand movements and projects them into virtual hands, allowing us to push and pull virtual objects. However, if you've ever tried virtual reality, you'll know that all you'll feel is thin air if you reach out to touch a virtual object.


When we think about the ways we sense the world around us and want to  replicate those experiences in VR, it’s clear that our tactile senses are a crucial component to feel fully immersed. This is why Haptics technology is being developed for VR.


What does haptic technology entail?

Haptic technology aims to simulate the sensation of touch with various mechanisms. One of them is using touch as a feedback system to communicate information to and from the user.


As visually-oriented species, we usually don’t stop to think how incredible our sense of touch really is. With our hands we can determine hardness, geometry, temperature, texture and weight only by handling something.


Even though you might not know it, there is a good chance you are already using haptic technology in your daily life. Many smartphones with touch screens use vibration as a form of feedback. 


Unlike keypad, touchscreens are just flat plates of glass, so the vibration function of the phone is used to simulate the tactile feel of buttons. What is more some Android smartphones detect when you pick them up and vibrate if there are any unread notifications for you. That is exactly what haptic technology is.


How do haptics work ?

Different technologies are used to give sensations that feel like solid objects and resistance.  Devices apply force, pressure or resistance by using electric actuators, pneumatics and hydraulics.


Electric motors, for example, are used in gamepads to force feedback vibrations. What's more, some data gloves track your hand motion while also using air bladders to harden and restrict your grip, allowing you to feel an object in virtual reality.



Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently unveiled a new prototype for virtual reality gloves, and companies such as Manus VR and Dexmo exoskeleton glove are developing gloves that will work with current VR headsets.


Amit Caesar wrote the article:


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