What are haptic technologies?
Checking your phone can be rude, inconvenient, and even dangerous, depending on the circumstances. Thanks to recent technological advances, the physical act of whipping out your cell around company, behind the wheel, or otherwise might soon become a nasty habit of the past. Haptic technologies are on the forefront of the new wave of communication, transmitting information through vibrations.
The buck doesn’t stop at phones, though; the haptic approach is becoming more common in various products including watches, GPS devices, and even car seats.
Imagine driving on a highway on a rainy night, feeling your phone buzz. The temptation to reach into your pocket and quickly glance down at your screen might mean the difference between a night at home and a week in a hospital. Instead of stressing about who it might be or how urgent the message is, you interpret the signature vibration pattern. There’s a big difference between “Hey man, did you catch SNL last night?” and “Call us ASAP! It’s a boy!”
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering how many different combinations of blips a person can realistically keep track of and memorize well enough to respond accordingly. Good news for you, my friends: A designer with Google wearables, Seungyon Claire Lee, tested just how apt folks like us are to pick up a brand new alphabet of vibrations. Impressively, subjects could read 24 different patterns with near-perfect accuracy after only 40 minutes of training. 40 minutes? Woah. I guess we’re a little quicker than I give us credit for.
Top complaint: waaaa, ads
As is the case with most new forms of technologies, the door that the use of haptics is opening could be taken advantage of by pesky ads and push messages. In today’s modern era of advertising, our eyes and ears are completely oversaturated by stimuli. Haptic technologies are meant to represent a more intimate and innovative way to receive information and emotion, and our sincere hope is that this pathway is not overused or abused.
Of course, the early production phase of haptic technologies might seem Neanderthal to some of you stuck-up tech folks, but this is just the beginning of what could give way to an entirely new form of communication. The few and simple patterns researchers and designers have developed now are merely laying the groundwork for what could be a revolution of language.