Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Curious World of "Haptics" - It Impacts Our Lives

The sense of touch - Haptics - its use in technology, and its impact on business and marketing caught my attention recently. The Wikipedia defines "Haptics" as follows: "Haptic technology refers to technology which interfaces the user via the sense of touch. It's an emerging technology that promises to have wide reaching implications".

Haptic feedback was first used in aircraft with servo systems that operate control systems because the servo systems prevented experience of the control shake from aerodynamic buffeting necessary to warn pilots of dangerous flight conditions.

According to the Wikipedia, "To replace this missing cue, the angle of attack is measured, and when it approaches the critical stall point a "stick shaker" (an unbalanced rotating mass) is engaged, simulating the effects of a simpler control system" [http://www.wikipedia.org]. The use of haptics in aeronautics protects aircrafts in flight.

Not that many blogs exist on the topic - but I did find Aali's blog[http://blogs.msdn.com]: The Academic Architect. Aali's blog discribes research conducted in human-computer interaction and how the haptic user interface, "allowed the user to interact with 3D elements with a pen-like pointing device that also had a force-feedback mechanism". Pen-like pointing devices are not the only explorations into the world of haptic use.

According to an article titled: "Haptics: Gaming's New Sensation" by Dean Chang of Immersion, "Haptics technology can simulate these tactile and kinesthetic sensations so that computer interfaces not only look but also feel-in the literal sense of the word-like the interfaces we're accustomed to using in the real world [software calculator or buttons on a phone's dial pad] " (Chang). This article appears in Immersion's Press Room on their website [

Haptics can create a "real world sensation" for humans emersed in computer-use, for humans in need of therapeutic treatment, or for humans desiring entertainment. The use of haptics in product design is a whole new area being pioneered by companies such as Sensable Technologies for use in games, in virtual reality, in simulators, in teleoperators, in medicine, in sexual exploration, and in arts.

Haptics, like Radio Frequency Identification, exposes us to new dimensions in products and services.

Further information is obtainable from the following sources (links will appear in my blogroll):

* The Electronic Journal of Haptic Research
* The International Society For Haptics
* The Haptic Community Website

Keep an eye on the future of "Haptics" - it will change our lives for the better.

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