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Haptic Technology: The Basics of Getting in Touch with Mixed Reality

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Everyday we interact with a ton of electronic devices. About 90 percent of daily experiences for people without physical perceptual impairment tend to those experienced through visual and aural perception with the third being the sense of touch, according to psychological research. Not only do we experience the usage of electronic devices through sight and hearing, but we can literally feel virtual reality thanks to haptic technology.

A lot of us are familiar with how the touchscreen of smartphones vibrate or the vibrations passed through gaming controllers. These vibrations cannot notify users about things that happen in their phones, but with haptics that is an entirely different story.

Since its inception, haptic technology, also known as the science of touch, has advanced significantly. Through haptics technology we can experience touch in more ways than what was considered inconceivable in the past.

Taking view of major industries’ usage of haptic technology, the gaming industry has a wide range of haptic environments that enhance visual experience for gamers to indulge in through innovations in complex vibrations. An example of haptics mixed with vibrations are the Vibrotactile haptic suits, which enable an even more immersive experience than what a joystick can provide. Next, tactile automobile seats are projected to provide the driver with more information without taking their eyes off the road thanks to the expanding multimedia environment within cars. Then, wearables for the health sector can make consumers feel more at ease and perhaps make it simpler for them to fall asleep.

Market Forecasts for Haptic Technology
By 2027, the worldwide haptics market will be worth more than $5 billion, predicts IDTechEx. More than 80 percent of haptic technologies in use today are found in mobile devices, yet this market is practically fully saturated because 85 percent of people worldwide use smartphones. In order to expand into new markets and applications, haptic technology developers recently adopted higher value tactile feedback techniques. By 2023, the haptic technology market will be dominated by the automotive industry, which is anticipated to grow the fastest over the following ten years.

Newest Branch in Haptic Technology
With the mix of ultrasound transducers, airborne haptics can produce high-pressure focal point in the air that can be modified to create different sensations. Beyond that, airborne haptics can also be integrated into vision and sound modalities resulting in multisensory feedback.

Today, leading companies spearheading airborne haptics technology is Ultraleap (formerly Ultrahaptics). This company has proven to enable a natural and intuitive interaction with digital content through the combination of hand tracking into airborne haptics.

Users can physically touch, feel, and control three-layered objects thanks to haptic technology, which also provides tactile feedback to the controllers.

Along the line, we can also note that Hosiden, Japanese manufacturer of electronic components and devices, also has its fair share of contribution in putting this technology to work. In fact, it has partnered with Ultraleap to deploy the latter’s technology to enable contactless interfaces and infotainment systems for drivers and passengers, and eventually infuse airborne haptics into cars in the future.

Now let’s talk about how airborne haptics can take mixed or extended reality to the next level.

Enhancing Mixed Reality
Be it virtual, augmented or mixed, it isn’t new for haptics to create an immersive experience by enabling touch sensation in virtual objects and feedback in MR/ XR environments.

But how does haptic feedback work?
Haptic devices produce haptic stimulation using components including motors, sensors, and speakers. Devices are programmed to emit haptic feedback in response to a certain action. Different technologies, such as skin indentation devices, exoskeleton devices, or vibrotactile technology, can produce the mechanical stimulus the user feels.

Exoskeleton devices often appear in the gaming sector and produce stimuli through active force feedback. These gadgets use electromechanical motors to target particular body areas and link them to a gaming experience.

Haptics Technology in Robotics and VR
Robots are capable of making quite precise movements, but to perform to their full potential, they must be controlled precisely. The greatest human surgeons cannot match the accuracy and dependability of a robotic surgeon's arm. The secret is to control the robot surgeon's arm with human dexterity and give the expert closed-circuit movement control. Haptic technology, a novel form of robot control, is being developed to allow the human surgeon tactile feedback while controlling the automated movement.

Users can physically touch, feel, and control three-layered objects thanks to haptic technology, which also provides tactile feedback to the controllers. They have precise control over where the robot's end-effector (the part of the arm that holds the object) is located. Administrators are given the ability to make development decisions that are acceptable on a human scale thanks to robotic movement inputs, which operate on much smaller scales. The technology also enables the intensification, or scaling, of aspects between the human administrator and the mechanical end of the system. This skill has significant implications for nanotechnology, such as nano-surgery.

As for virtual reality (VR) haptics adds a new dimension by enabling users to connect with the virtual world not just through their sense of touch but also through their sense of hearing or seeing. To properly understand the virtual reality (VR) immersion and connection components, it is essential to take these into account. The majority of research on VR reproduction focuses on the immersion aspect of VR. However, because to the challenges in developing haptic-enabled VR frameworks, the association component of VR that recalls haptics has not been given much consideration in Human-PC Collaboration (HCI) studies.

It is crucial to provide clinical specialists with sensible and adaptable replies so they may get ready for future careful requirements. With virtual reality, you can experience a setting where the objects and surroundings seem actually lifelike. These components are bringing the VR environment a little bit closer to real-life encounters. The time when haptic criticism was only applicable to joysticks and regulators with vibration is long gone. As technology advances, a completely new world of haptic VR devices will be available to make your VR experience as seamless and lifelike as possible. In actuality, some people even acknowledge that without haptics, VR is just an image with sound.

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