Haptic Ever After

Haptics refers to technology that communicates with a user via sense or touch and comes from the Greek word, 'haptikos' meaning to grasp or understand something.

More and more brands are now using haptics technology to reach out and quite literally, 'touch' their customers.

It appears as if Depeche Mode were bang on the money with their track, Personal Jesus...'Reach out and touch me...'

But Haptics isn't new. It's been around in various guises since the seventies, particularly in arcade racing games and pinball machines.

Haptics are also being increasingly used in healthcare for things like tactile imaging techniques as well as in robotics for the development of humanoid hands.

VR is another growth area particularly around wearable tech & haptic vests which leads us nicely on to gamers who are currently the biggest users of this tech.

Imagine playing FIFA or a good shoot 'em up like Gears of War without a constant rumbling in your controller from slide-tackles or explosions? It doesn't bear thinking about.

Over the last few years advertisers have also realised the potential of haptics to promote their brands in new, innovative ways.

Words, sounds, and videos are well-known but touch can offer a new advertising sensation.

Stoli vodka used haptic-enabled hot spots to grab users’ attention in a more engaging way with their brightly animated SHAKER mobile advert that made users phones vibrate whenever a woman shook a cocktail.

To create a buzz around Homeland Season Four, Showtime released a haptic-enabled teaser through its app that enabled users to feel vibrations whenever glass was broken, or bombs exploded.

The vibrations, timed with music, became stronger as the tension in the trailer mounted and guess what, it worked!

 Magna & IPG Lab partnered with Immersion to quantify the impact of touch-enabled mobile advertising.

Magna & IPG Lab partnered with Immersion to quantify the impact of touch-enabled mobile advertising.

Showtime had a click-through rate five times larger than the industry standard and a 12% increase in full episode premiere views on mobile.

if you think about it, smartphone users are already predetermined to respond to haptic ads. Whenever our phones vibrate we automatically reach for them and check our screens for those all important social media updates.

But like all new technologies haptics has its potential pitfalls. If used badly, it could easily become quite intrusive - particularly if a user's phone was repeatedly targeted with ads and vibrations.

Mobile phone maker Hauwei said its ads using haptic technology were 10 times more effective than using its standard ads using touch screens to create a more engaging experience.

Toyota has also demonstrated an in-car touchscreen that responds to the driver’s touch with a slight haptic bump, while a system from Bosch simulates the feeling of pressing buttons and activating clicks.

Haptics strength ultimately lies in is its power to drive users deeper into digital experiences through touch, and the future looks bright for this ever changing industry.

If you think about it, it takes a while to read a brand's logo and absorb the information that comes with it, into our brains. But stimuli such as smell and touch go directly to the brain without passing GO, creating an instant reaction.

Powerful stuff!

Martin Aaron

Coup Media, 2 Pendyris St, Cardiff, Wales, CF11 6RJ

Digital producer, director, photographer, author and Head of Content @ Coup.