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“Haptic technology, or haptics, is a tactile feedback technology which takes advantage of the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user. This mechanical stimulation can be used to assist in the creation of virtual objects in a computer simulation, to control such virtual objects, and to enhance the remote control of machines and devices (telerobotics). It has been described as "doing for the sense of touch what computer graphics does for vision". Haptic devices may incorporate tactile sensors that measure forces exerted by the user on the interface.
Haptic technology has made it possible to investigate how the human sense of touch works by allowing the creation of carefully controlled haptic virtual objects. These objects are used to systematically probe human haptic capabilities, which would otherwise be difficult to achieve. These research tools contribute to the understanding of how touch and its underlying brain functions work.
The word haptic, from the Greek ἅπτικός (haptikos), means pertaining to the sense of touch and comes from the Greek verb ἅπτεσθαι haptesthai, meaning to contact or to touch.”
(Wikipedia, Haptic Technology, 4/12/2012)
“There are many known user interface devices which employ haptic feedback--the communication of information to a user through forces applied to the user's body, typically in response to a force initiated by the user. Examples of user interface devices which may employ haptic feedback include keyboards, touch screens, computer mice, trackballs, stylus sticks, joysticks, etc. The haptic feedback provided by these types of interface devices is in the form of physical sensations, such as vibrations, pulses, spring forces, etc., which are felt by the user.
Often, a user interface device with haptic feedback can be an input device which "receives" an action initiated by the user as well as an output device which provides haptic feedback indicating that the action was initiated. In practice, the position of some contacted or touched portion or surface, e.g., a button, of a user interface device is changed along at least one degree of freedom by the force applied by the user, where the force applied must reach some minimum threshold value in order for the contacted portion to change positions and to effect the haptic feedback. Achievement or registration of the change in position of the contacted portion results in a responsive force (e.g., spring-back, vibration, pulsing) which is also imposed on the contacted portion of the device acted upon by the user, which force is communicated to the user through his or her sense of touch.
One common example of a user interface device that employs a spring-back or "bi-phase" type of haptic feedback is a button on a mouse. The button does not move until the applied force reaches a certain threshold, at which point the button moves downward with relative ease and then stops--the collective sensation of which is defined as "clicking" the button. The user-applied force is substantially along an axis perpendicular to the button surface, as is the responsive (but opposite) force felt by the user.”
[Lipton et al, US Patent 8,127,437 (3/6/2012)]
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Roger D. Corneliussen
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** Date of latest addition; date of first entry is 4/12/2012.