Talking about haptic dimension

In the gaming world, things tend to be focused on visual aspects. Take as an example, Virtual Reality (VR) and the investment in visual interferences that evoke immersive reactions. This aspect of feeling that the reality and the virtual is the same can be called as Telepresence. The telepresence is enhanced by media “richness”. However, most of the times, the “touch” or “tactical” sense can be overlooked. Let’s take the 5 senses as a guideline. In games, we have sound, images.. but we don’t have touch, smell and taste. I’m not sure if the technology is yet there to create a smell-tasteful experience in the game, but the touch, yes. And that goes beyond the vibration of the game console while playing the game.

While watching this video from Casual Connect about “Wearable Haptic Feedback” (by Ehren J. Brav), you can understand what I’m talking about.

As Ehren J. Brav shows in the video, the haptic experience is usually used for simulation, but it can also bring information for the player as feedback. And that’s the main point. This device showed in the video is more as a helmet because it can be used for VR experiences. In the game it can also bring another dimension to the player – even to solve challenges in the game. It sounds incredible!

The main point now is that haptic feedback gives another dimension for HCI. It’s not about visual aspects anymore. It’s a combination of senses. Imagine what that could bring for different types of gaming experiences!

Now, imagine haptic situations that you don’t have a wearable. Disney has been researching about 3D haptic experiences with different interfaces. It’s like touching a screen but it has haptic “waves” enhanced by algorithms and lots of different aspects.

The idea of haptic feedback was also explored by another project from Disney in order to improve storytelling, bringing together linguistic and touch. And yet again, no wearable, just a touch screen device, as tablets and mobile phones. This shows that it is possible to transform technology into haptic screen. Why not? Imagine reading an ebook and feeling everything that is in the book just from the touch?

It is time to think. What are the design theories that could be applied into haptic dimensions? How does it vary for each individual? Maybe haptic could be applied in health-related gaming, helping people to overcome diseases? It is possible that the area of health and technology could benefit from those aspects, particularly for people that need treatment. But, yet, it is necessary to understand the types of applications. In the area of education and for young learners, maybe haptic could bring more immersive experiences for students in order to improve their learning experience – why not?

It seems that the combination of gaming structures and immersive technologies for the 5 senses is the main area to be explored. However, we still have a lot to do! What do you think?

References:

Kortum, P. (2008). HCI beyond the GUI: Design for haptic, speech, olfactory, and other nontraditional interfaces. Morgan Kaufmann.

Kim, S. C., Israr, A., & Poupyrev, I. (2013, October). Tactile rendering of 3D features on touch surfaces. In Proceedings of the 26th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology (pp. 531-538). ACM.

Israr, A., Zhao, S., Schwalje, K., Klatzky, R., & Lehman, J. (2014). Feel effects: enriching storytelling with haptic feedback. ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP), 11(3), 11.