A technology that transmits tactile information via vibration, touch, force feedback, or touch is called haptics. Real-world technology and virtual reality systems use haptics to improve human interaction. This article will discuss the types and importance of haptics.
What is Haptics?
Haptic technology uses vibrations, touch, and force feedback to transmit tactile information. Real-worth technology and virtual reality systems use haptics to improve human interactions.
The goal of haptics, is to create a virtual reality system that makes people feel like they are experiencing real experiences, is one of its goals. Mobile phone vibrations are a common haptic technology that boosts immersion.
Haptics uses force and tactile feedback to allow users and computers to interact with each other. The first simulates the physical characteristics of the object being virtualized such as weight and pressure. The latter depicts the object's texture (for example, its smoothness or roughness).
What is the working principle of haptics? Before we get into the inner workings of this technology let's first look at the role of human skin. The somatosensory, a complex organ that contains touch receptors and nerve endings, is home to this system. This system informs the brain about heat, cold, pain, or any other sensations humans feel.
The touch receptors transmit sensations by sending signals to the nearest neuron. This signals the next neuron until the brain receives it. The brain then responds to the sensation.
Audio and graphics stimulate the senses of sight and sound to transmit information. Similar to audio and graphics, haptics stimulates the somatosensory system to transmit information and provide context. When a user holds the application icon in an Apple iPhone's app tray, they feel a pull sensation. This sensation is generated by the iPhone's haptic motors to signal that the app can be deleted, moved, or classified.
Different methods are used to create the vibrations, forces, and other movements in haptic systems. An eccentric rotating mass (ERM), actuator, is the most popular. The ERM spins rapidly, creating instability in the force of the weight. This causes motor movements and, eventually, haptic feedback.
Another method of creating haptic feedback is using linear resonant actuators. This method involves a magnet and a spring being joined by a coil. The outer layer is used to secure the coil. The coil is electromagnetically charged to cause the magnetic mass to vibrate and create a feedback sensation.
Other than ERM and LRA, emerging technologies can also be used to provide haptic feedback in more accessible ways. Experts use Haptics to perform functions such as training, entertainment, and remote operations.
Types of Haptic Technologies
There are many types of haptics. They can be classified according to their use, feedback, and mode. Let's learn more about the different types of haptic technology.
Based on Usage
The standard haptic technology for generating kinesthetic feedback is the graspable device (think joysticks). These devices allow users to enhance immersion in gaming, as well as enable them to operate robots more effectively in remote and virtual environments.
This technology is used in space exploration and bomb disposal. The latter uses case sees astronauts and ground personnel using haptics-controlled robots for the repair of equipment (such as spacecraft parts or satellites), without ever leaving their vessel or even Earth.
Consumer applications use touchable haptic technology. Think smartphones that respond to taps and rotations. The technology will soon be able to reproduce object movements and textures using touchable haptics. This is called haptography.
Companies could use programmable textures to enable customers to feel the fabric they are buying, right from their own homes.
Wearable haptic tech simulates contact through the use of tactile stimuli such as pressure, vibration, temperature, and even heat.
Virtual reality (VR), gloves, which mimic real-world sensations, transmit and receive inputs from their users and control remote robots or avatars, is a rapidly-emerging application of wearable haptics.
Based on Customer Feedback
1. Forcing Feedback
This type of haptics was developed in the 1960s. It is one of the oldest and best-studied forms of this technology. It stimulates the skin, muscles, ligaments, and skin. This is in contrast to other haptics that affects only the top layer of skin receptors.
Two types of haptics can emulate human body parts. Biomimetic devices can mimic human limbs and move with them. Exoskeletons are a type of exoskeletons, which can be added to the human body.
The difficulty of developing biomimetic devices is a major problem. These devices must be able to reproduce human limb movement and function for different body sizes, without limiting freedom of movement. Non-biomimetic devices are not affected by this issue, as they are different from the human body.
Force feedback equipment can also be classified according to the direction of applied power. Active and resistive devices are both included in this classification. The latter restricts user movement while the former uses motors to generate activity. These systems can mimic many interaction types and are usually robust, but they can be difficult to control. These brakes limit the movement of the user.
2. Vibrotactile Feedback
This type of haptics is based on vibrostimulators, which apply pressure to the skin. Vibrotactile feedback targets the skin's definite receptors, which resemble onion layers. It can sense vibrations up to 1000 hertz.
These devices are simple, economical, and easy to use. These motors are often found in smartwatches, cell phones, game controllers, and automobile steering wheels. Vibrating motors aren't ideal for simulating many sensations and can be difficult to reduce in size.
This feedback type is most commonly seen in smartphones. The user feels a vibration when they interact with the touchscreen.
3. Electrotactile Feedback
The use of electrotactile stimulators produces electrical impulses that can affect nerve endings and receptors. These devices can send many sensations to the user, some of them not possible with other feedback methods.
This feedback method can be used to create haptics. The frequency and intensity of stimuli that are applied to the skin can determine the form of haptics. You can feel sensations based on voltage and current.
Electrotactile feedback systems are not dependent on mechanical moving parts, unlike vibrotactile and force feedback. This is another distinguishing feature of these types of haptic devices. The assembly of electrodes into compact arrays to implement electrotactile displays is another. This haptic feedback serves as the basis of the human nervous system, making it highly useful for simulating real-world sensations.
4. Ultrasonic Feedback
To generate subtle feedback, this haptic technology uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound emitters). These devices employ an acoustic-time reversal transmission principle, which means that the emitter's position may be different from the target on the human body.
When ultrasound feedback is needed to be transmitted to larger areas of the body, haptic feedback fields can be helpful. These fields combine multiple emitters to create tangible, but invisible, interfaces of ultrasound waves in midair. These interfaces produce turbulence that can be felt by the skin.
This haptic technology has the advantage of being free from user-worn accessories. This arrangement is usually less cost-effective than other types of haptic feedback.
5. Thermal Feedback
Thermoelectric feedback haptics use actuator grids that are in direct contact with the body. These systems use the Peltier effect-based thermoelectric diodes. These systems do not require the use of many small units or precise placements to produce the desired simulation effect.
Temperature management can be complicated because heat and cold cannot disappear from any surface. Instead, they must be transferred according to the law of energy conservation. To ensure accurate simulation, the transfer must be done quickly. These devices are complex and energy-intensive.
Based On Modality
In most haptics, vibration is a common modality. This category includes technology such as linear resonant actuators and the eccentric rotating mass. This technology is found in wearables and mobile phones as well as controllers and other types of devices.
But not all vibrating devices can be classified under haptics. The difference lies in the intent and the complexity of vibration patterns. For the duration of a communication, regular vibrating devices emit one waveform at a constant monotonous intensity. Haptics, on the other hand, transmits information using advanced waveforms.
A simple vibration is simply a sensation that transmits information, rather than specific intent. A smartphone vibrating while answering a call is just a vibration. A vibration that is very intense in one part of the device's body during a gaming session, on the other hand, can be used to indicate information such as collisions in racing games.
This modality uses haptics to simulate movement, mass, and shape.
Smart screens do not have the tactile feedback that mechanical buttons provide. Simulated buttons combine audio and tactile feedback to recreate the feeling of a pressure pad under the finger.
Importance of Haptics
Many industries rely on haptic technology. Here are some examples of everyday haptics.
1. The Metaverse
The term metaverse is often used in tech news. Companies across all industries are preparing for the metaverse to change our lives. The rise of the metaverse will make Haptics a popular technology.
The metaverse's ultimate goal is to recreate reality in a virtual world that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. This requires immersion in all sensations of the human body, not just sound and sight. This collective vision of tech industry success is dependent on highly effective haptics.
Let's take a look at Meta's position on haptics. It is the dominant player in the metaverse. Although the Facebook company announced its rebranding on October 20,21, it was already familiar with immersive technologies well before then.
In 2014, Meta acquired Oculus for $2 billion. This was the first major step towards haptics supremacy. The company has continued to acquire new IPs in augmented and virtual reality (VR) and invest in its solutions. As early as 2019, haptics was mentioned.
Facebook Reality Labs, formerly known as Oculus Labs, has made promising advances in immersive solutions research. Recently unveiled haptics-enabled devices were created to lower input latency in gaming.
For users who want to interact with virtual worlds in a realistic and free way, haptics is the best choice. By using haptic technology, users can seamlessly zoom in, pinch, push, touch, drag, and perform other object-oriented interactions.
These interactions will be possible with the help of gloves, which will most likely include electromyography (EMG) for powering the gear. They will include electromyography (EMG), which converts the electrical signals transmitted by human thoughts into inputs that computers understand.
What would happen to haptics in the metaverse? Users can provide input and receive feedback. A user could feel the object's resistance and weight by pushing it around in the metaverse. If a rock was tossed across a virtual lake, users would feel its weight leaving their fingers. This is the magic of haptics!
2. Space Exploration
Haptics is not limited to the metaverse. It has been used by astronauts and ground crews for many purposes, including space exploration.
The European Space Agency's METRON program, for example, relies heavily on haptics. This program is focused on the development of robot interfaces, communication networks, hardware, and software that can be used to remotely control robots in space.
Potentially, space agencies could also use haptic technology to create infrastructure on other planets and satellites by using robots controlled from Earth. Although this may sound daunting today, many space agencies already use complex haptics to support existing space-related applications. Future developments are only normal.
Even if there is no imminent danger, pilots can use haptic feedback in aviation to increase their situational awareness and inform them about the aircraft's current conditions. Pilots can get information from haptics about flight control to help them manage their flights safely and economically.
Haptics is a technology that allows flight crews to quickly identify operational problems. To alert pilots when they enter dangerous flight conditions, haptic tech is embedded in steering equipment.
Haptic tech can also be used to ensure compliance with flight envelope protection measures. The haptic actuators can be mounted to various parts of the cockpit or among the controls. They interact physically with pilots' bodies and relay the required information quickly and effectively.
Not only does haptics play an important role in live flight, but it is also used to simulate real-life sensations during flight simulations. Flight trainees can experience situations they wouldn't otherwise be able to experience if they were to happen in real life. Simulators that use haptics can simulate rain, storms, or damaged engines.
The potential for Haptics to improve vehicle usability and expand driver/vehicle communication is great. You can insert haptic components directly into different parts of the vehicle's user interface (UI), including the dashboard, steering wheel, seatbelts, and seat.
These tactile interfaces can then be used to provide feedback or force to the driver. A vibrating seat, for example, can alert the driver when pedestrians are crossing the road in front.
5. Teleoperations by Robots
Teleoperators use haptics to get critical feedback from remote robotic devices. Sometimes, robots are exposed to forces in real-time. In these cases, operators can be notified. This allows them to perform tasks with precision and accuracy. Robots, for example, are trained to handle toxic substances and defuse explosives.
Modern healthcare has many aspects that include haptics. For example, consider minimally invasive surgery. The controls of laparoscopic instruments are equipped with tactile feedback and force to allow doctors to remotely examine and diagnose any abnormalities.
Also, surgeons can use haptics to have greater control over robotics-powered medical procedures. Robotic surgical robots allow doctors to perform operations in places too small for human hands. They can also use small tools or carry out operations from another location. The addition of haptic feedback to robotic surgery teleoperations increases accuracy and reduces the operation time. It is also less likely to cause tissue damage.
A role for haptics is also in training doctors. Medical students can use virtual patients to practice incisions and suturing, without putting their lives at risk. Another example of this technology is dental simulators. Dental students can drill and cut teeth in virtual reality using haptics that simulates real-world sensations.
To simulate weather effects and explosions in movie theaters and immersive gaming areas in theme parks and shopping malls, haptics is used to power immersive gaming systems and movie theater seats. Gamepads, joysticks, and jet seats transmit physical sensations to gamers via electrotactile feedback. Video games aim to replicate the real world of virtual scenarios.
But that's not all. Beyond VR headsets and gaming controllers, haptics can also be used at home. The haptic-powered vests, which anyone can purchase online, deliver low frequencies to different parts of the body. To enhance the experience of watching movies and video games, these vests can be combined with compatible home entertainment devices.
There are many haptic configurations, each offering a different set of uses. Consumers of haptic technology are from all walks of society and will continue to grow with the popularity of the metaverse. However, haptics is not limited to this one application. This technology is used in many areas, including entertainment and automobiles.