In 1925, David Katz wrote the classic treatise on haptics, which he titled The World of Touch. His was a big world, ranging from familiar ideas in haptics such as shape, vibration and surface properties to the more esoteric: the haptic qualities of bread dough or the feel of brushing into cobwebs. In this talk, I’d like to share a vision of haptics in the digital arena and suggest that this too, is a big – and rapidly growing – world.
I will highlight three directions along which our world is advancing. First, the repertoire of tools for pushing, pulling and prodding the skin is rapidly expanding with the commercialization of technologies such as Tanvas’ variable friction touch screens, focused ultrasound, and high density pneumatic bladders. Second, new techniques for measuring haptic properties (e.g., texture) and powerful algorithms for “playing back” realistic renditions are being developed. Finally, new tools are being created that allow designers to express complex ideas, behaviors and emotions through this new medium. Katz, I think, would be pretty excited.