A few days ago I had the pleasure to meet some people from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Advanced Robotics Centre, who explained me some features of their researches on Haptic Systems.
A Haptic System recreates the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user. It is useful when you control a device (in this case a robotics arm), while you also receive feedback from the robot on the effort done or the tactile sensation.
Haptic systems have a long story, but their applications grow constantly. Technology users "need" to physically feel. The difference in the experience of using, for example a racing video-game with or without a force feedback (haptic) steering wheel is enormous. Not only you feel better the experience, but you control much better the car.
But is not only about games,is about almost anything that you need to control: A doctor operating a robot in a surgery, a scientist using a teleoperated arm to manipulate delicate materials, can be used to enhance the users’ immersive feeling when performing training in virtual reality environments, or tactile interaction with holograms, controlling remotely operated vehicles...
Basically, the use of haptic feedback can improve performance and sense of presence. Definitely, we will see more and more haptic applications in the near future, that will enhance our user experience and will make our life more productive, easier and happier.