Automobiles have become a new platform for haptic innovation as OEM and Tier suppliers seek to differentiate through advanced industrial design, driver-centered features, reliability, and safety enhancements.
Cockpit control design is transitioning from electromechanical switches and potentiometers to touchscreens, touchpads, and touch surfaces, which can lead to both cost savings and new, more ergonomic HMI design. Haptics will play an increasing role in providing timely and salient feedback to drivers.
Haptic design that presents important information at the right time and to specific parts of the body will allow drivers to feel confident in the operation of the vehicle while keeping eyes on the road. Haptics will also allow drivers to explore a touch surface and feel the locations of controls before activating their functions.
As vehicles become more autonomous in operation, there will be new opportunities for engaging drivers and passengers with in-car experiences that are multisensory and include visual, audio, and haptic media.
The Haptics Industry Forum intends to align the industry on performance specifications for haptics in automotive, enabling clear expectations between OEMs and Tier suppliers when specifying haptic functionality.
In addition, a basic set of haptic design guidelines for use in driver notifications will be developed. These guidelines will utilize psychophysical science to ensure they are readily distinguished at the population level while providing sufficient flexibility for brand specialization. This will enable consumers to expect a consistent haptic experience in each car they drive.
Wearable devices are particularly well suited to offer personal, high-quality and reliable haptic experiences to people. These devices are generally untethered, portable and relatively lightweight, providing convenience and comfort for extended use (many hours or days) in almost any situation, location or environment. Wearable devices are typically worn or positioned on a specific part of the body, providing an effortless direct and stable contact between the product and the user’s skin. Common product form factors include gloves, rings, wristbands, headbands, necklaces, vests, backpacks and belts.
Typical wearable haptic experiences are found in interpersonal communication and notification systems, navigational guidance and directional/spatial cueing, accessibility aids and tools, sensory augmentation or substitution, for safety, well-being or entertainment benefits. Most wearable interfaces rely on presenting vibrotactile stimulation to the wearer via varying types of motor and actuation technology. A large majority of devices use a single actuator, but newer commercial offerings operate with 2 or more actuators in order to provide additional control and a refined experience. The major considerations and constraints for wearables are: power/energy efficiency, comfort, saliency, battery life, haptic vocabulary, and host vs standalone operation.
The Haptics Industry Forum intends to align the industry on portability and interoperability of haptics in wearables, enabling haptic designers, content creators, integrators and hardware manufacturers to create high quality experiences across different platforms and systems.
Technologies for sex-related use cases are one of the pioneering uses of consumer facing haptics going back decades if not centuries. From toys to therapeutic and medical products to adult entertainment, “sex tech” is one of the most varied uses for haptics. As the complexity of haptics in this area ranges from simple vibration devices to multi-axis, multi-actuator computer controlled systems, adult use cases have provided an important outlet for haptic exploration and development.
Haptics for adult use cases sometimes overlaps with other use cases such as wearables, accessibility, XR, and so on. However, it stands alone in its industry investment and consumer profiles. Adult use cases also may require specialized design to manage the affective state of the hardware consumer. Adult hardware may be used in a variety of situations – private or public, in sexual activity, or as part of a sexual wellness regimen – that require new and novel control interfaces. Haptic content for adult use cases may be linked to many different types of media, such as movies, games, music, audiobooks, and more. Actuation methods are highly diversified and include vibration, force, friction, temperature, suction, electrostimulation, and others.
The Haptics Industry Forum intends to align the industry on best practices for designing and engineering haptics for sex tech. This includes the production of standard protocols and operating techniques, as well as guidelines for biomechanical design, accessibility design, and various engineering strategies for creation of new technologies and refinement of existing products.
Mobile phones are ubiquitous companions and have become a key driver for widespread deployment of haptic capabilities. Nearly 100% of smartphones have some form of haptic feedback capability and the fidelity and quality of these haptics continues to increase year over year.
In general, haptic use cases in mobile devices can be categorized into the following buckets:
It is also important to distinguish between feedback that is part of the operating systems and feedback in user-installed apps. In both Android and iOS, the OS provides a consistent set of notification and confirmation feedback including ringtones and touchscreen UX but leaves app-specific feedback to be designed and implemented by app developers.
It is fairly common for games to utilize haptic feedback to increase the level of immersion by adding haptics as part of gameplay. In practice, many games are played with audio disabled or off, so haptics provides a useful additional feedback modality for users. An additional important emerging use case for haptics is in mobile media experiences such as video.
Other potentially important use cases include accessibility, navigation and ambient awareness. These use cases represent real value opportunities for haptics but a lack of consistent experience for end users has made general purpose learning of these haptic cues a challenge.
The Haptics Industry Forum intends to support efforts to catalyze the mobile ecosystem to embrace high fidelity haptics, in the form of high-quality component technologies and consistent best practices for haptic user experiences across mobile devices. These efforts will be embodied in recommended practice white papers, industry standards and engagement with appropriate standards bodies.