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Haptic Technology – Feedback, Devices, Working Principle, Applications

With the evolution in the world of computers, convergence of numerous budding technologies led to the invention of Haptic Technology. It is the science of applying tactile sensation to human interaction with computers that coordinates movements and enables perception. This post gives a detailed description about Haptic Technology, Haptic Feedback, how it works, types of devices, applications, advantages and disadvantages.

What is Haptic Technology

The word Haptic comes from the Greek verb haptesthai, which means “to contact or to touch”. Haptic technology adds the consciousness of touch and feeling to computers. It is a tactile feedback technology which takes advantage of the sensitivity of touch which could be by applying forces, vibrations, or motion to the user and recreates actions.

A Haptic gadget gives individuals a feeling of touch with computer generated conditions, with the goal that when virtual items are contacted they appear to be genuine and real. This communication or the interaction between Haptic device and the control system is referred as “Haptic Feedback”.

Haptic Technology

Fig. 1 – Haptic Technology

Haptic Feedback or Haptic Information

Haptic Technology is actualized through various kinds of associations with a Haptic gadget speaking with the control system. Haptic information or Haptic Feedback that is provided by the system is a combination of two types of information:

1. Tactile Feedback

2. Kinesthetic Feedback

Tactile Feedback

It is referred as the information obtained by the sensors when it comes in contact with the skin of the human body i.e with the sense of touch.

Kinesthetic Feedback

Kinesthetic Feedback in Haptic Technology is related to awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body via sensory organs. It also refers to the information acquired by the sensors in the joints and muscles. It allows a person to feel the force/ torques exercised upon contact with a body through the receptors.

Haptic Feedback

Fig. 2 – (a) Tactile Feedback (b) Force Feedback in Haptic Technology

Types of Haptic Devices

Haptic Devices are broadly categorized in to two types:

    1. Active Haptic Devices
    2. Passive Haptic Devices

Active Haptic Devices

The devices that are controlled by the computer that supply tactile or force feedback to the user through electronic, electric or mechanical means are called as Active Haptic Devices. These devices are equipped with actuators that actively generates the force. E.g. Force Feedback devices like Phantom, Cybergrasp.

Active Haptic Device

Fig. 3 – Active Haptic Device

Passive Haptic Devices

Passive Haptic Devices are human controlled and these devices are equipped with passive actuators which generates torque only against its motion. E.g. Virtual Reality/ Tele-robotic based devices such as Gloves and Wearable Devices, Exoskeletons etc.

Passive Haptic Device (2)

Fig. 4 – Passive Haptic Device

How does Haptic Technology System Work

A typical Haptic Technology System is an assembly of several sub-blocks namely:

  1. Touch screen device with capacitive buttons
  2. Processor
  3. Driver circuit
  4. Actuator

The input to the Haptic Technology System may be a touch, a press on the capacitive buttons on the touchscreen. This serves as an input or the trigger signal which is sent to the touch screen controller. The sensors in the device sense the change in the amount of force applied, change in the angle of the input and sends the information to the processor.

The information is further processed generating a waveform which could be either analog or digital which acts as an input to the driver circuit and specific instructions are given to actuator to generate a pattern that creates a vibration. This feedback from actuator which is given back to the touchscreen device acts as a force feedback. The user thus feels this force feedback virtually.

Typical Haptic System (2)

Fig. 5 – Typical Haptic Technology System

Applications of Haptic Technology

Haptic has not spared any field from its impact. The applications of Haptic Technology include:

1. Gaming Industry uses this technology widely in video gaming.

2. Medical Applications make use of Haptic interfaces which are designed for medical simulation which helps in remote surgery and virtual medical training.

3. It is used in Military Applications where a virtual reality environment is simulated to provide versatility in military field which includes training in virtual reality environments.

4. It serves as Assistive Technology for the blind and visually impaired where the visually disabled person feels the maps that are displayed over the network. Learning mathematics is also made simpler by tracing touchable mathematical source.

5. Haptic Technology is extensively used in Museums where the priceless artifacts displayed are visualized in 3D manner and objects from their sculpture and decorative arts collection are made available through CD-ROM.

6. Haptic Technology finds its diverse application in the field of Entertainment, Arts and Design, Robot Design and Control, Neuroscience, Psychophysics, Mathematical modeling and simulation.

Advantages of Haptic Technology

The advantages of Haptic Technology are:

  1. Digital world can be experienced and perceived.
  2. Easily accessible and user friendly.
  3. Accuracy and precision is high.

Disadvantages of Haptic Technology

The disadvantages of Haptic Technology include:

  1. Involves complex designing as Haptic devices requires precision of touch.
  2. High initial cost involved.
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Arisha Salman
Arisha is an MCA and BSc (IT) and has work experience as PGT Computer Science. She is an author, editor and partner at Electricalfundablog.
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