What Are Haptics and Why Are They Important?


You may not know it, but you're using haptic technology now. Your smartphones, touchscreen car stereos, game controllers, tablets, and some laptop computers are just a few examples of devices using haptics. At its core, haptics deliver more immersive, rich, and engaging user experiences. 

So, what are haptics? Haptic devices work through touch stimulations and establish a connection from the virtual, on-screen experiences to the physical world. As a result, you'll feel that your digital devices have become more natural and engaging. 

With more and more companies entering the field of haptics, one question has become crucially important: "Why have haptics become so valuable in the modern world?" Let's find the answer.


What Are Haptics?

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The use of haptics arose around the mid-2010s, but the technology has been around since the 1980s in arcade games.
You can understand the meaning of haptics by looking at your smartphone. Observe how your iPhone or Android opens an app or informs you about a notification just with a touch. 

For instance, if your phone vibrates one time, it's a message. Similarly, you know that you have got a phone call when it buzzes repeatedly. Haptics has trained you to understand what each vibration means, even without looking at your phone.

The haptic devices use vibration, motors, or similar physical experiences to stimulate the sensory touch and deliver a tactile or haptic experience. Simply speaking, haptics technology is tactile feedback that an electronic device produces to provide information to the users. 


Why Have Haptic Devices Become So Significant in the Tech Industry?

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The use of haptics is everywhere. Every tech device that works on sensory feedback and electric signals uses haptics technology. The popularity is justified considering the wide range of benefits that haptic devices offer us daily. 

Here are five reasons why haptics are valuable in the tech industry:


Haptics Engage Your Natural and Vital Sense of Touch

Haptic technologies have almost replaced the physical touch button on smartphones and tablets. While many people love the feeling of pressing a button to command the device, haptics are here to offer you a more natural and vital touch experience that you're sure to enjoy. 

Haptic devices imitate the sensation of physical buttons to perform the command. For instance, when you unlock your phone with the fingerprint sensor, you feel a little bump before the device opens. You're likely to feel the same tiny twitch when long-pressing on an app or swiping the navigation bar. 

These haptic feedback effects make the users feel more connected to their devices. 


Tactile Interaction Creates an Immersive User Experience

Tactile interactions in video games make them feel authentic as if the gamer is actually in them. The haptic touch delivers rich and detailed information about a topic for many types of applications. 

Combined with sight sense, touch enhances the amount of information transferred to the device's brain for comprehension. While this lowers the risks of user errors, it also narrows down the time taken for task completion.   


Touch Screen Control Is Essential For Most Electronic Devices

It's rare to find a digital or electronic device with buttons these days. Since the introduction of touch screens, devices with buttons are now considered outdated. From gaming phones to consoles and tech tools to training devices, touch screens have become essential for most electronic devices. 

Some devices with haptic feedback include:

  • Smartphones
  • Smartwatches; haptics create vibrations for notifications, directions, and scrolling
  • Arcade game controls; arcade games build haptic gaming feedback systems into the steering wheel or flight stick
  • Video game console controllers; haptics used in the controllers create vibrations during the in-game events
  • Car dashboards interfaces and touch screen stereos; haptics simulate pressing buttons and moving switches experiences
  • Laptops touchpad
  • Medical training devices; physical haptic feedback makes surgeons and physicians feel like they're practicing on humans
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Tactile Sensation and Vibration Provide Crucial Alerts

As you now know, haptics in mobile phones are responsible for notifying you about alerts and texts. The way telephones have transformed into portable computers that you easily carry in your pockets, the importance of haptics has also grown considerably to enhance user experience.

Yes, haptics helps you understand what each buzz or vibration means: shorter bursts are for notifications, and longer ones are for phone calls. However, there is more to this tactile feedback. 

Quality haptics can also use different combinations of rhythm and force to convey varying information. For example, a new alert pops up slightly longer than a new email.


Quality Devices Generate Accurate Haptic Feedback Response

Technological developments focus mainly on enhancing accuracy and reducing the time taken in manual operations. The same was the case with haptic devices. However, older devices with touchscreens without haptics usually have less accuracy, especially input accuracy. 

A study compared the input accuracy between a phone with a physical keyboard, a smartphone with a touchscreen keyboard, and the other with a touch screen keyboard built with haptics. The results amazed everyone. 

Touchscreens with haptic experiences give accuracy levels close to the physical keyboard, while the keyboards without haptics were way behind. This finding shows that tactile feedback can improve typing speeds and touchscreen input accuracy

Quality haptic devices offer more accurate tactile feedback responses than those without this technology. 


Provide the Experience of Touch With Exceptional Hardware

Haptics are all about enhancing your user's behavior and actions through an enhanced and natural touch experience. Many companies are already integrating haptics into their product to improve the touchscreen experience on a different level. 

This innovative hardware is here to improve the user experience. The best way to know if haptics are the right choice is to start your experimentation.

To help you get started, Boreas Technologies has development kits available that allow you to test our piezo haptics and evaluate their effectiveness and power consumption on your own. With our haptic drivers, you're sure to offer a seamless gaming experience through your smart devices.

Whitepaper: Building piezo haptic trackpads for windows 11

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