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What Does Haptic Mean?

Haptic refers to technology that uses touch to control and interact with computers. A user may apply a sense of touch through vibrations, motion or force. Haptic technology is used mainly in creating virtual objects, controlling virtual objects or in the improvement of the remote control of machines and devices. The word haptic is derived from the Greek "haptikos," which means a sense of touch.


Haptic devices can measure reactive forces and bulk forces applied by a user.

Techopedia Explains Haptic

The first use of a haptic device was in large modern aircraft that relied on servomechanism systems to operate control systems. Haptic technology can also be used to study the human sense of touch by enabling the creation of controlled virtual objects, which can be used to consistently investigate human haptic capabilities that are otherwise difficult to study.

Haptic technology is applied in the following fields:

  • Teleoperation: Remote-controlled robotic tools that enable human operators to control remote or distant environments. Remote-controlled robotic tools, such as those used for dangerous tasks, are a standard example of this type of technology.
  • Virtual Environments: Haptics are becoming very popular as an imperative part of virtual reality systems. Examples include simulators, control systems, devices and specialized models that allow for touch-based interaction with computers.
  • Robotics: Robots manipulate the environment by relaying information to a central computer for processing and analysis.
  • Cellular Devices: Haptic technology is gaining popularity in the mobile consumer technology field, where it is used to provide features such as vibration feedback on smartphone touch screens.
  • Future Applications: Currently researchers are focusing on controlling and mastering tactile interaction with holograms and distant objects. If this research is successful it may result in applications and advancements in the field of gaming, movies, manufacturing, medical and other industries.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.