Haptic Interaction

What is haptic interaction?

"A haptic interface is a force reflecting device which allows a user to touch, feel, manipulate, create and/or alter simulated 3D objects in a virtual environment"

haptic. (Adjective Grk: haptein) having to do with the sense of touch; tactile

haptics = touch, tactile, force-feedback, using force/resistance, texture, heat, vibration

How does it work?

"Force display technology works by using mechanical actuators to apply forces to the user. By simulating the physics of the user’s virtual world, we can compute these forces in real-time, and then send them to the actuators so that the user feels them."

Minsky, in Blattner and Dannenberg, 1992.

Why is it going to be important?

• Bill Buxton "hands on = finger on"

• we aren’t exploiting the interface to keep up with computing power

• more 3D and VR environments in games and elsewhere

• demand for richer input and output possibilities

Potential Benefits
• reduction in fatigue

• increase in productivity and comfort

• decreased learning times

• large reductions in manipulation errors

What sorts of products are being produced?

• the Phantom haptic interaction device

• magnetic levitation interaction devices

• exoskeletal devices

• the Pantograph

• the Freedom 7


What application areas are best suited to haptic input?

• medicine, for training, surgical simulation

• other risky/specialised areas, e.g. astronauts, mechanics

• education about complex objects, e.g. chemistry

• creative 3D work, e.g. modelling, product design

• interaction for disabled

• interaction in 3D and VR environments



Haptic Community Website, an on-line resource for researchers in haptic interaction


The Image Gallery section of the Haptic Community Website. Very interesting


WYSIWYF work at Carnegie Mellon. Excellent, clear description with video demos


Sensable — leading product designers and developers in haptic hardware, software and applications. Makers of Phantom.


Another leading haptics manufacturer — interesting and easy to use site


Bill Buxton’s embyonic directory of every input device known to mankind…

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