You've most likely felt the vibrations of a phone in your pocket, but did you know that the buzzing effect is one of the most basic forms of a field known as Haptics?

Haptics refers to any interaction involving touch, or specifically touch feedback.

What if vibrations could communicate more to you than just the arrival of a text or phone call? What if touch was the only sense you had?

The haptics field is wide open, and researchers are finding new and exciting ways to communicate and experience both the real world and the virtual world.

In this episode, we look at one haptics application right out of science-fiction — a full-body HoloSuit! — and several smaller-sized ideas that could help people right here and right now.

Listen to the episode below, and subscribe here.

Episode highlights include:

  • Yon Visell, a professor at the University of California — Santa Barbara, provides an overview of Haptics. Visell spoke with Tech Briefs about his work at the school's RE Touch Lab.
  • The HoloSuit from KaayaTech allows you to fully enter virtual reality from head to toe. HoloSuit CEO Harsha Kikkeri takes us through the suit’s 36 total sensors, 9 haptic feedback devices, and 6 input buttons.
  • Tommy Sullivan, an electronics and software engineer, has plenty of ideas. One his best: Radar glasses that can help the visually impaired detect obstacles. Anyone can make them, too; Tommy laid out the steps in full detail on instructables.com.
  • Along with MIT’s Charlotte Reed, Purdue Professor Hong Tan set out to create some buzz – specifically a way of receiving messages via vibrations through the skin on the forearm. Read Hong’s interview with Tech Briefs.

Watch how the Holosuit from Kaaya Tech captures your entire body motion and transfers it to an avatar or robot in real-time.

Watch an animation from Hong Tan, of the haptic symbols for 15 English vowel sounds.