Why Haptics matter

October 22, 2014 // By James Lewis, Redux Labs
“Now we are all using touch displays on our smart phones, tablets, and increasingly on our computers, we are becoming acclimatised to the lack of naturalistic user interface – we are tapping away at a ‘dead’ screen. We reach out to our tablet and it doesn’t even have the grace to give us a polite handshake.”

Since we were toddlers when we stood on tip-toe to turn on the lights we have become 'trained' in how a switch works. You feel when your finger is on the switch, to build up pressure, and on reaching the right force threshold you feel the switch move under your finger, you hear the ‘click’, and see the lights come on (it’s called ‘multi-modal sensory fusion’).

As adults we do this without thinking, but if any one of those elements jars with our senses, then our conscious thoughts are interrupted or distracted. So when user experience is good we don’t even notice it, but when it’s bad we do...in a bad way. User experience must enhance our productivity or enjoyment without getting in the way. Now we are all using touch displays on our smart phones, tablets, and increasingly on our computers, we are becoming sensitised to the lack of naturalistic user interface – we are tapping away at a ‘dead’ screen. We reach out to our tablet and it doesn’t even have the grace to give us a polite handshake.

There are two key elements to being able to deliver that naturalistic tactile response from a touch screen:

1. Understanding the parameters of a mechanical switch, key-stroke or button press that relate to the human factors that interpret the richness of the sensation.

2. Owning the technology that utilises human factors knowledge to replicate complex sensations of a mechanical switch or key that moves on a non-moving touch screen.

At Redux Labs, we believe we have both, and have built that knowledge and IP into products that we are able to demonstrate in real-world systems;

 

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