How does haptic touch feedback work?

Haptic technology in smartphones: what exactly is behind it?

Haptics and haptic technology are mentioned again and again. Among other things, also with smartphones and tablets. But what is it all about - and what can you look forward to soon? You can find the answers here.

Haptics is about how something feels. And that is particularly important with smartphones. Simple vibrations are therefore by no means the end of haptic technology. Here you can find out how this technology area could soon develop further.

The basics: what does haptics actually mean in smartphones?

Haptics is a Greek term. It means something like tangible. But not with the heart, but for example with your fingers. With smartphones and tablets, one can differentiate between two types of haptics. For one, the device doesn't have to be switched on at all. It's just about how good it fits and feels in your hand. That is why there are always many smartphones on display in the Vodafone shops, for example, so that you can touch them and pick them up.

But the inner (haptic) values ‚Äč‚Äčalso count. This is about haptic feedback. This includes, for example, vibrating when you press a key. Your smartphone reports that it has sensed your touch. Feedback that you can feel. But mobile phone manufacturers now want to raise the technology to a new level: How about if you could suddenly feel a keyboard on your touch display like on a computer? Or sliders could be felt?

Innovations you can touch: What haptic technology can already do today

Noticeable elements on a touch display sound strange at first. But you've probably wished for a real keyboard for typing on your smartphone, right? But how are you supposed to be able to feel something on such a smooth surface? This is exactly what haptic researchers all over the world are working on.

For example, the French start-up Hap2U presented a new haptic technology at CES 2017. And so, for example, digital sliders should actually be made noticeable. But the display remains completely smooth. The highlight: Ultrasonic vibrations are generated within the display. With so-called piezoelectric actuators. Think of the parts like electric lighters or the ignition button on a gas grill. Just tiny. But the principle is the same: you press it and the parts ignite. What triggers an ignition spark for a flame in the large version provides the ultrasonic vibrations in the smartphone. These are of course completely harmless, but just noticeable. And that's Hap2U's trick. It may still be a little while until the first displays with this technology are ready for series production - but it will certainly not take too long.

Source: Youtube / HAP2U

The future of haptic technology in smartphones and tablets

With haptic technology, you can feel digital content all at once. Visually impaired people could possibly read a text in Braille on their smartphone because the writing could be felt. Or the thing with the keyboard: Perhaps you will soon be able to type on your tablet like on a normal keyboard with real keys. Or your smartphone becomes a full-fledged game controller whose joysticks and buttons you can operate without looking. The possibilities are as varied as they are exciting.

Was there anything you could do with the term "haptics" before you came across this article? For what purposes do you find the technology interesting?