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What is Haptic Feedback, and why is it important?

How is Haptic Technologies changing the game?

Many companies use terms such as “3D Touch” and “Haptic Feedback” in their marketing, but what opportunities do new tactile technologies offer? Just imagine, the user puts on special gloves with haptic feedback technology, virtual reality glasses or headset and can get a new, unique experience. The user will be able to feel the texture and temperature of an object, and thanks to a special suit, the user will be able to feel weather conditions such as rain or even wind.

This is a new level of immersion in VR due to tactile technologies, because the user gets new opportunities! This technology is not new and has been used in game controllers and mobile applications for a long time. Yes, we are talking about ordinary vibration, but even such a simple thing allows the user to receive feedback from the device and increases the level of immersion. Haptic feedback is not only a great marketing tool, but also an essential element for VR, AR and mobile app development.

Why are Haptics important?

Haptics is a combination of several technologies, and they are very significant not only in the field of entertainment, games, interactive cinema, etc. Haptic feedback has many applications in education. Pilots and firefighters are trained using VR and tactile technologies, and these technologies are also actively used in medicine and dentistry. Often, surgical operations require very precise movements, so doctors use robots and special tools, and thanks to haptic feedback technologies, surgeons can literally feel the tools they operate.

Now tactile technologies are actively developing, large corporations are investing a lot of money, because they understand the huge potential behind haptics. Haptic technologies are based on feedback and user interaction, so they cover a huge range of applications, from mobile phones to high-tech simulators, from exhibitions and VR games to design workflows, from marketing to museums etc. Also, one of the good use cases for Haptic UX is in the automotive industry. When people are driving, they have to pay attention to several things at once: the road, the radio, the passengers, and other background noises. Therefore, it is difficult to know when an operation on the vehicle's touch screen has been successful. Tactile sensations can provide feedback that an action has been successfully registered by the system, rather than relying solely on visual and audio cues.

How it Works?

How it Works?

Previously, electronic devices often interacted with users through two senses - sight and hearing, but haptics allow you to get feedback and simulate a sense of touch and orientation in space. Users can “touch” virtual objects and the device or computer can “touch back”, greatly increasing the sense of immersion. Let's see how it works. Haptic Feedback is more of a family of technologies than a single technology, so there are many ways to interact with the user. Here are a few technologies through which “feedback” occurs:

  • Force control/Force feedback

  • Vibrotactile feedback

  • Electrotactile feedback

  • Ultrasound tactile feedback

  • Thermal feedback

The simplest example is controller vibration in video games. When shooting or colliding with an object, the system recognizes this action and sends a signal to the gamepad or other device. Thus, the player not only hears and sees the shooting, but also feels the feedback. The vibration intensity can also be different, as the player may feel more impact from a larger explosion or when driving a larger vehicle in the game. Mobile app development companies also often incorporate elements of haptic feedback into their products. For example, vibration upon successful payment with a bank card in Google or Apple Pay. However, one of the most interesting and disruptive applications of haptic feedback technologies remains VR.

How does Haptic Feedback feel?

Haptic feedback is all about how to better mimic how you feel when touching or interacting with something in real life, allowing you to create precise vibrations that help you better represent what is happening in the game. Unlike the explosive vibrations of current controllers, haptic feedback allows for much greater subtlety, from the delicate splashing of raindrops to something more serious, like an explosion.

In theory, haptic feedback can feel like anything, but in practice it depends on the specific device. There are many ways to "trick" the human brain into believable touches and conditions, especially when paired with VR. Tactile sensations (or, more simply, “touch”) are part of the human somatosensory system. This system includes a huge variety of sensations, not just vibration and pressure, but things like pain, temperature, and the position and movement of your body in space. Often, when users stay in virtual reality for a long time, they begin to “sick”, so it is likely that tactile technologies will partially or completely solve this problem.

What is Haptic Feedback in Mobile Apps?

Haptic technologies play a very important role in mobile app development. This is not only about vibration in games when shooting or driving a vehicle, but also about features in the user interface. We’re all used to vibration when the phone rings or when you press the keyboard, but the range of technologies that at first glance seem so simple and familiar is much wider. Tactile technologies are widely used in mobile app development.

Everyone has already heard about 3D Touch, which recognizes the force of pressing the display, and thanks to the different amplitude and vibration strength, for example, the user intuitively understands whether any operation was successful or not. Tactile technologies in mobile app development significantly increase the range of user options and make using smartphones more convenient and simple. Very soon we’ll be able to see on the market devices with displays that allow you to feel some interface elements tactilely. Also, haptic feedback will become indispensable in more advanced AR apps and games.

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