Exclusive Interview with Sile O'Modhrain of The University of Michigan

Smithers Apex: Why is a haptics conference so important right now? What do people need to know about what is going on in the industry?

Sile O'Modhrain: Because in recent years, more sophisticated haptic feedback has begun to appear in consumer products, e.g. from apple.  Finally consumers are experiencing the power of having touch feedback in response to their touch input on screens, trackpads, etc. and I don't think they are likely to want to see this go away.  

Smithers Apex: What is the greatest advancement in haptics at the moment, and what do people have to look forward to?

Sile O'Modhrain: The greatest advancement in haptics is investment - finally we are reaping the benefit of having the attention of large-scale manufacturers of products who can afford to make haptic feedback available at scale. 

This is increasing the available of a wide variety of ways of sensing touch input and producing touch output at a cost that individual interaction designers can afford.  The result is an increasing interest in touch as an interaction modality among designers at all levels of experience and expertise.

Smithers Apex: What are some challenges going on within the haptics industry at the moment?

Sile O'Modhrain: The challenge for haptics is always to produce touch effects that are convincing at a cost that can be absorbed into the price of a product.

Smithers Apex: What or who are you excited to see at Smart  Haptics 2017?

Sile O'Modhrain: It is always exciting to see a field expand beyond the lab to reach into everyday life.  So it is exciting to see industrial partners begin to incorporate discoveries from haptics labs around the world into their products