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Definition

haptics

Haptics (pronounced HAP-tiks) is the science of applying touch (tactile) sensation and control to interaction with computer applications. The word derives from the Greek haptein meaning "to fasten." Haptics offers an additional dimension to a virtual reality or 3-D environment and is essential to the immersiveness of those environments.

By using special input/output devices (joysticks, data gloves or other devices), users can receive feedback from computer applications in the form of felt sensations in the hand or other parts of the body. In combination with a visual display, haptics technology can be used to train people for tasks requiring hand-eye coordination, such as surgery and space ship maneuvers. It can also be used for games in which you feel as well as see your interactions with images. For example, you might play tennis with another computer user somewhere else in the world. Both of you can see the moving ball and, using the haptic device, position and swing your tennis racket and feel the impact of the ball.

Reverse electrovibration, also known as virtual touch, is one area of haptics used with VR and augmented reality (AR) technology.  Virtual touch facilitates electronic transmission of human tactile stimuli, allowing end users to perceive the textures and contours of remote objects. Besides conveying the feel of everyday objects, the technology can also be used to enhance accessibility, for example through the transmission of Braille characters.

 

This was last updated in August 2016

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