Haptics

Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

A detail of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo.

Haptics is the study of touch, perhaps the most enigmatic yet essential of our senses. Touch is directly linked to emotional development and health, which is why the rise of digital communication presents such a troubling paradox. On the one hand, social media, email, and texting bring people in greater contact with each other than ever before. On the other hand, such forms of contact lack the most fundamental element of connection — actual touch. While plenty have postulated about the social repercussions of this new paradigm, its actual health implications are only now coming to light. Taken together, this new understanding is leading the digital communications industry to reintroduce haptics in unexpected ways.

1. Touch is essential for development.
“The growing prevalence for human interaction through digital media–particularly for young people–versus personal physical contact, and the social and legal restrictions over physical contact in our schools and workplaces may have unintended negative consequences.” Read More.

2. Starving for touch…
“We’ve lost some of our ability to get along with people and have an easier time getting along with machines—at least they tend to respond instantaneously to our needs without much coaxing or interaction.” Read More.

3. Movement helps us learn.
“Writing by hand strengthens the learning process. When typing on a keyboard, this process may be impaired.” Read More.

4. Touch screens are made of glass but why not make them feel like fur or sand?
To create tactile feedback, the company says it uses “an ultra-low electrical current” to create “a small attractive force to finger skin.” Read More.

5. Need to migrate? Haptic compasses give provide a new sense of direction.
You can build a north-sensing feedback device into a belt using some pager motors, an Arduino, and a digital compass. Read More.

6. If you’re too far away to kiss a loved one, kiss your phone.
One phone includes force sensors and a strap that goes around a hand that can tighten, simulating a squeeze, when a friend grips their own phone. Read More.

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