Simulate a real touch when the user interacts with the product. The tactile effect is not limited to vibrations, but can potentially be extended to detect surface texture, forces, temperature, etc.
Razer, one of the world’s leading gaming hardware companies, announced in early July that it had acquired a 100% stake in Go Touch VR, also known as Interhaptics, a French nugget founded in 2017 that specializes in tactile tools and software. Razer first introduced its HyperSense haptic ecosystem in 2018, supported by the company’s gaming peripherals such as the Razer kraken V3. This is a PC gaming headset with haptic technology. From rumbling explosions to hissing bullets, with the ability to feel what you hear, which includes true multi-sensory play.
However, developments in recent years have led to the use of HyperSense in only a few headset models. This time around, with the acquisition of Interhaptics, Razer will look to extend HyperSense to more products to create a complete ecosystem of haptic peripherals. AR, VR, consoles, smartphones, and many other wearable devices are examples of haptic environments. Tactile sensations are an integral part of many devices. Haptic feedback is more than just vibration — it’s device interaction, safety alerts, and an integral part of creating an immersive experience. The growth of the market will continue in the long term of the tactile device market, and more advanced technologies are expected to be implemented in more devices.
Interhaptics has revolutionized the haptics market since its first launch in 2020. Interhaptics is the only platform that gives game creators the tools to develop HD haptics for every platform in seconds. the startup currently supports cross-platform haptics across PC, consoles, mobile and XR devices. Their mission is to enable the growth of a scalable haptic ecosystem through haptic standardization, multi-technology support, and cross-platform deployment. MPEG has recently chosen the Interhaptics encoding and architecture as the basis for a future haptics standard due to its superior perceptual performance. Implementing standards will quickly make vertical solutions obsolete, and those who lead the effort will become market leaders for years to come.
Razer isn’t the only gaming company to invest heavily in haptics. The Sony DualSense controller that comes with the PS5 console is a revolutionary product in terms of the use of tactile sensations in games. The DualSense not only uses LRA-compatible high-precision vibration, but is also the first controller to include kinesthetic haptic feedback in the rear triggers for enhanced effects. DualSense implements certain proprietary technologies from General Vibration, an American haptic technology company.
Tactile sensations are quite common in everyday life and can be found in various devices, especially smartphones. However, a simple hum no longer meets the expectations of buyers. The real trend and motivation of the market is to create a more immersive user experience with haptic feedback. This is true not only for the gaming industry, but also for many other areas such as augmented reality (VR, AR and MR). The end goal is to mimic the real touch when the user interacts with the product. The tactile effect is not limited to vibrations, but can potentially be extended to detect surface texture, forces, temperature, etc.
The metaverse will be impacted by tactile innovations, virtual reality will become much, much more real. Advanced graphics and immersion are one thing, but the tactile experience is starting to improve as well. Scientists and researchers have been working on all sorts of strange things like chemical tactile sensations to bring tactile sensations like cold and heat into virtual reality.
The dominant technologies for tactile sensations from 2022 are Eccentric Rotating Mass Motors (ERM) and Linear Resonant Actuators (LRA). These haptic motors are widely used in gaming products, for example, ERM motors are used in most game controllers (such as Xbox controllers), and LRA motors are found in newer products such as the Nintendo Switch and Steam Deck. These motors have their limitations and can hardly meet the ever higher expectations of users in terms of tactile effects. Therefore, more advanced technologies are in demand. Some options include voice coil motors (VCMs), piezoelectric actuators, etc. New, higher value-added technologies are driving the growth of the tactile device market in the long term.
In addition to new technologies, new markets can also be an important driver of market growth. Examples of promising markets for tactile experiences include the automotive and augmented reality (VR, AR and MR) sectors. The tactile sensations of augmented reality, as we have seen, create an immersive experience for users. However, in vehicles, tactile cues are now generally used for safety alerts. For example, some cars have haptic steering wheels that vibrate to alert the driver when the car is moving out of its lane. In the future, tactile sensations will mean more than safety warnings in vehicles.
Haptic sensations can be an important interface for interacting with an autonomous driving system. In addition, a plausible argument is that when fully autonomous driving becomes a reality, the car becomes a recreation and entertainment center, and therefore the use of haptic sensations in vehicles can be aimed at improving the user experience, as in other devices. The chart below, taken from Haptics 2023-2033: Technologies, Markets and Players, shows IDTechEx’s short-term forecast for the growth of the automotive haptics and augmented reality market.
Last month, Apple announced that with the iOS 16 (Keyboard) update, it was finally adding haptic feedback to the keyboard built into iPhone — haptic feedback that will let you feel vibration when you type. Previously, haptics was available for other gestures, such as typing the wrong password or tapping and holding the screen to show content, but not for the keyboard. In other words, a new keyboard update powered by Apple’s Taptic Engine technology will finally give iPhone users the ability to access tactile experiences without downloading other third-party software.