Haptics is found in nearly all modern touchscreen devices. Whether it’s a resistive, capacitive, surface acoustic wave (SAW) or infrared grid, virtually all touchscreen devices now use haptics. In this post, we’re going to explore haptics technology, revealing how it’s able to improve the performance of touchscreen devices.

Overview of Haptics Technology

The word “Haptics” originates from the Greek word “haphe,” which is defined as “pertaining to the sense of touch.” In touchscreen devices, it’s designed to create the sense of touch, making this a fitting definition. Haptics technology leverages the power of one or more external forces, such as vibrations, that the user can feel.

Benefits of Using Haptics in Touchscreen Devices

Haptics is used primarily in touchscreen devices to increase input/typing accuracy while subsequently improving user satisfaction. While haptics technology can be configured in countless ways, most device manufacturers use it to register the user’s command.

When you tap an icon on a touchscreen display, for example, the device may vibrate. As a result, you’ll know that the device registered your command. If you were to tap an open area on the touchscreen display — where there isn’t an icon — the device won’t vibrate. Therefore, haptics promotes fewer input/typing errors to create a better overall user experience.

Without haptics, you may not know if a touchscreen device registered your command. As a result, you may reenter the same command, believing it didin’t register right the first time. Problems such as this are easily avoided by choosing a touchscreen device with haptics.

Vibration Haptics

The most common type of haptics used in touchscreens is vibration. Also known as vibrotactile feedback, vibration haptics lives up to its namesake by creating physical vibrations. You can find vibration haptics in smartphones, tablet computers, smart TVs and countless other touchscreen devices. It’s simple, effective and inexpensive to produce.

Vibration haptics uses a vibrating motor to produce the sensation of touch. The motor is embedded in the rear of the device. When you perform a touch command that’s registered by the device, the motor activates by vibrating and producing tactile feedback.

Acoustic Haptics

While less common than vibrations, acoustics (sound waves) can also be used to produce haptics. Acoustic haptics works by emitting an ultrasonic field over the touchscreen interface. When activated, the sound waves create the sensation of touch. Acoustic haptics is still relatively new, but it’s poised for strong growth as touchscreen manufacturers seek alternative haptics solutions for their devices.