While there are many budding industries related to haptics, it’s easy to forget that for the majority of the general public, ‘haptics’ is still a very new and curious term. Many people still only know ‘it’ as the vibrations and buzzing of their phone or gaming controller.
If you ask an industry member or professional, chances are they’ll describe it entirely differently from a colleague and someone in a similar industry. In that way, it’s fun to look at the current definitions from some of the internet’s most trusted sources:
- Cambridge Dictionary: “A haptic device creates a physical feeling such as a push or vibration so that you know, for example, when you have pressed or touched something on a screen.” The haptic touchscreens buzz gently when a key has been touched.
- Lexico (Oxford): “Relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception. ‘Haptic feedback devices create the illusion of substance and force within the virtual world’
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary: “1. relating to or based on the sense of touch. 2: characterized by a predilection for the sense of touch
a haptic person”
- Dictionary.com: “of or relating to the sense of touch:
the haptic sensation of holding a real book in your hands. Digital Technology. of or relating to tactile sensations and the sense of touch as a method of interacting with computers and electronic devices:
smartphones that incorporate haptic feedback;
- Gartner: “Haptics is a tactile or force-feedback technology that leverages a person’s sense of touch by applying vibrations and/or motion to the user’s fingertips. This stimulation can assist the technology in the development of virtual objects on the device screen. In its broad sense, haptics can be any system that incorporates tactile feedback and vibrates through a sense of touch.”
- Wikipedia: “Haptics, any form of interaction involving touch.” The Haptics page points to Touch, Haptic communication, Haptic perception, and Haptic technology.
If you’re interested in haptics, be sure to sign up for my monthly “All Things Haptics” Newsletter. You can also learn a lot from experts in the space by listening to The Haptics Club, a biweekly podcast interviewing academics, developers, and leaders from leading consumer technology companies.