| At the Corner of Technology and Culture

Haptic Hat Trick

Is anything quite so susceptible to an uncanny shudder and ‘ew’ effect as a badly handled sense of touch in the technological realm? Sure, we’ll put up with hinky little graphics that make us squint, or tinny vocals on un-copyright-traceable sound. But our sense of touch is so intimate, so deeply connected to the body, that it has to be got just right.

Think of the creepy feeling of using someone else’s mouse. The natural comfort of the way your own mouse fits your own hand goes out the window as you grapple with the odd way another person places that familiar device. Yuck. It’s worse than using a buddy’s toothbrush. That person you thought was your friend is in fact a freak who puts her mouse where on the desk?

Well, now thanks to the world of ‘haptics’–the study of artificially reproducing the sense of touch–that may no longer be a problem. New Scientist reports

that using the same kind of technology that allows cell phones to use vibrate mode, we may soon be able to incorporate simulated touch online. The return of teledildonics, anyone?

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