What does haptic technology involve? We look at the tech of touch

The technology is coming into more and more into virtual reality.

Have you ever been playing a game and felt the console shake as you spun off the track into grass? Or been alerted to a call via a vibration from your phone?

These are the results of haptic technology. The word was first in use in the 1930s, according to the Collins Dictionary, and has seen a steady rise over the past 10 years in usage.

We look further into what haptic technology has the capacity to do, especially within health technology.

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What does haptics mean?

Haptics is when pressure is applied to the skin to deliver feedback - for instance when the phone vibration acts as an alert, or in a virtual reality simulation different textures could be presented.

The technology can also be used for gesture technology - where you feel like you’re touching buttons even though you’re moving your hand in air. This uses ultrasound and could enable surgeons to explore a CT scan by enabling them to feel the disease.

For example, see this video from the University of Bristol below.

At one start-up that has come out of the famous Swiss tech university École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), a joystick has been created that allows you to fly a drone through haptic feedback and motion control.

MotionPilot’s headset allows you to feel the drone doing a sweep or turn.

Haptics for virtual reality

Haptics is entering into virtual reality more and more to fully recreate the virtual environment and allow you to interact with virtual objects.

One place allowing trainee surgeons to practise in the safety of virtual reality is the Bournemouth University Orthopaedic Research Institute.

The simulations allow you to feel when you’re cutting through bone, skin or muscle.

How do you pronounce haptics?

And finally, to say haptics just say hap-ticks. It’s super easy and comes from the Greek word meaning to touch – haptein.

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