Haptic Feedback: The Evolution of Touchscreens

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If you’ve not heard of Haptic technologies, you will. Over a decade ago, researchers at MIT started developing devices that provide direct stimulation for people to feel virtual objects. In the last decade, the technology has begun to make it’s way onto touchscreens.

Last year, Immersion demo’d a touchscreen at CES that provided haptic feedback. By adjusting the frequency and stimulation back to your fingers, you’re able to reproduce the feeling that you get when actually touching an object. For instance, you could make the surface feel smooth or rough like sandpaper. Not only does the technology have an opportunity to open up computer systems for improved accessibility from handicapped, it can change the way that we actually interact with computers as a whole.

One example is virtual keyboards on touch screens. I use a Droid over an iPhone because I simply have a difficult time using a device that doesn’t have tactile feedback. If I could pick up an iPhone and a keyboard provided haptic feedback to my touch, I’d be able to feel the keys and more accurately press them.

The technology expands beyond video games and into art, medical and automotive technologies, too. Imagine being able to touch the Western Wall in Jerusalem, or imagine a steering wheel that provided you haptic feedback if you were turning into a lane where another car was present! Or still – imagine a Doctor practicing or performing remotely utilizing a device that provided accurate haptic feedback for sensitive surgical procedures.

It’s exciting to think about all the possibilities as well as how marketing communications could change if you could virtually touch your customers when engaging them online.

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