Haptic

(adj.) Of or relating to the sensation of touch. From the Greek haptesthai, to touch.

Haptics is the science of applying tactile sensation to human interaction with computers. A haptic device is one that involves physical contact between the computer and the user, usually through an input/output device, such as a joystick or data gloves, that senses the body’s movements.

By using haptic devices, the user can not only feed information to the computer but can receive information from the computer in the form of a felt sensation on some part of the body. This is referred to as a haptic interface. For example, in a virtual reality environment, a user can pick up a virtual tennis ball using a data glove. The computer senses the movement and moves the virtual ball on the display. However, because of the nature of a haptic interface, the user will feel the tennis ball in his hand through tactile sensations that the computer sends through the data glove, mimicking the feel of the tennis ball in the user’s hand.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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