What Is Haptic Feedback & Why You Need It

In today’s saturated app market, where millions of applications vie for users’ attention, it has become increasingly challenging to stand out. Despite the staggering number of daily app releases on Google Play and the Apple App Store, only a select few manage to captivate our interest. It seems as though developers are struggling to amaze us, leaving us with a sense of stagnation.

Fortunately, mobile device manufacturers continually push the boundaries of innovation, introducing new features and capabilities with each product release. These advancements provide mobile engineers with exciting opportunities to elevate app experiences to new heights. For companies looking to capture users’ interest, staying abreast of these latest developments is crucial.

In this ever-evolving landscape, haptic technology has emerged as a game-changer, offering app developers a powerful tool to enrich our mobile interactions. Haptic feedback, in particular, holds the potential to revolutionize the way we engage with apps. Whether you already have a company app or are considering developing one, incorporating haptic feedback into your design is a decision worth exploring. Let’s delve into the reasons why.

What Is Haptic Feedback?

haptic feedback

Haptic feedback is a technology that leverages the sense of touch to communicate with users. It goes beyond mere vibrations and creates a more immersive and interactive experience.

Imagine the moment when you long-press an item on your smartphone, and you feel a distinct jolt in response. This intimate interaction between you and the device exemplifies the essence of haptic feedback. It’s a deliberate and conscious effort by the machine to acknowledge and respond to your touch-based communication.

While haptic technology is often associated with basic vibrations, its capabilities extend far beyond that. It allows for nuanced tactile sensations and precise feedback, enhancing the way we engage with digital devices and applications. Let’s delve deeper into the world of haptic feedback and explore its potential impact on user experiences.

Unlocking the Potential of Haptic Feedback in Mobile Devices

If you own an Apple Watch, you’re likely familiar with haptic technology through its subtle taps for notifications. Even without the watch, you can imagine the concept: adding a sensory experience that engages your sense of touch when interacting with a device.

Haptic feedback has been available on Android devices for some time, and iOS developers gained access with the iPhone 6S. Recent updates, particularly in iOS 13, have expanded the possibilities of haptic capabilities. These advancements offer a unique opportunity for app developers to differentiate their creations and make them stand out among the crowd.

By harnessing the power of haptic feedback, your app can provide users with a captivating and immersive touch-based experience. It’s time to explore the untapped potential of haptic technology and elevate your app’s engagement to new heights.

How Does Haptic Feedback Work?

At the core of haptic technology, regardless of its type, lies the concept of precise control over the outputs that elicit user feedback. However, the functionality and communication methods of each haptic type vary, as we will delve into further detail below.

Vibrotactile Haptic

Haptic Feedback - types

One of the most prevalent haptic technologies is vibrotactile haptics, widely utilized in commercial haptic devices. You’ve likely encountered this technology in the form of the buzzing sensation from your phone or the rumble of a game controller. What makes vibrotactile feedback fascinating is its ability to convey sound through vibrations.

The human brain possesses a receptor called the Pacinian Corpuscle, which detects these specific sound vibrations. By experiencing sounds through touch, you can perceive subtle cues about the objects you interact with. Surprisingly, when you run your finger across a surface, it is primarily the vibrations that provide insights into its texture, whether it’s rough or smooth.

Devices employing vibrotactile feedback typically utilize motors to accomplish this. For example, in an Xbox controller, there are motors on either side. When triggered by in-game events, these motors spin, creating varying vibrations throughout the controller. This vibration serves as an exciting cue for gamers, indicating an event of significance.

Vibrotactile haptics exemplify how technology can leverage tactile sensations to enhance our interactions and create more immersive experiences.

Ultrasonic Mid-Air Haptics

feedback haptic

Imagine a haptic technology that feels like it belongs in a futuristic sci-fi movie. That’s precisely what ultrasonic mid-air haptics offers—the latest breakthrough in haptic feedback.

Unlike traditional methods, mid-air haptic technology allows for tactile sensations to be generated on a user’s skin without requiring direct physical contact. It’s a remarkable concept that pushes the boundaries of interaction possibilities.

At the core of this phenomenon are ultrasonic phased arrays. These arrays focus acoustic radiation in space and create controlled deflections on the skin, resulting in a tangible tactile sensation. While it may be challenging to put into words, experiencing mid-air haptics is a game-changer, especially in the realm of virtual reality applications.

Ultrasonic mid-air haptics represents a leap forward in our ability to create immersive and realistic experiences, transcending the limitations of traditional touch-based interactions. It opens up a world of possibilities for the future of haptic technology and the way we engage with digital environments.

What is the purpose of haptic feedback?

The purpose of haptic feedback is to enhance user experiences by providing tactile sensations and haptic cues through touch-based interactions. It aims to create a more immersive, engaging, and intuitive user interface, enriching the way we interact with digital devices, applications, and virtual environments.

Types of Haptic Feedback

To navigate the realm of haptic feedback, let’s focus on the two primary types that have significant practical applications for your business. Both fall under the category of vibrotactile feedback, making them viable options to consider.

By combining these forms of feedback, you have the potential to truly mesmerize your users with immersive experiences.

Transient Haptic Feedback

Transient haptic feedback is characterized by its brevity and fleeting nature. These tactile impulses occur at specific moments in time, providing a quick and concise response. Imagine the satisfying vibration when toggling a switch or swiping left on a dating app—it’s an instantaneous burst of haptic feedback.

Continuous Haptic Feedback

On the other end of the spectrum, continuous haptic feedback offers a prolonged and sustained experience. It manifests as patterns of vibrations that resemble the familiar sensation of a vibrating ringtone. This feedback persists over an extended period, providing users with a continuous and engaging tactile response.

By understanding and harnessing the potential of both transient and continuous haptic feedback, you can captivate your users and deliver remarkable experiences that leave a lasting impression.

Different Types of Haptic Feedback Technology

Force Control:

Uses: Mechanical devices, manufacturing

Features: Exerts force on the user’s body or limbs, utilizes levers or controllers for precise force feedback, important for ensuring accurate force generation in tasks.

Ultrasonic Mid-Air Haptics

Uses: Virtual reality (VR)

Features: Creates turbulence through ultrasound waves, users can feel the haptic feedback without any direct skin contact, controlled by algorithms, used to enhance VR experiences.

Vibrotactile Haptics

Uses: Video games, virtual reality (VR)

Features: Generates haptic feedback through vibration patterns, allows users to “feel” sounds and interact with devices, commonly applied in gaming and VR applications.


Uses: Medical testing, point of care, science experiments

Features: Utilizes small amounts of air or liquid to create pressure or temperature changes on the user’s skin, commonly used in medical and scientific applications for precise tactile feedback.

Microfluidics is a form of haptic technology that utilizes the manipulation of tiny amounts of air or liquids to create a sense of pressure or temperature change on the user’s skin. This technology finds applications in various fields, including clinical analysis, scientific experiments, and medical research, particularly within the biological domain.

Surface Haptics

Uses: Touchscreens, user interfaces

Features: Regulates or modulates friction between the surface or touchscreen and the user’s finger, provides tactile feedback to enhance user interaction and functionality on touch-based devices.

Surface Haptics

Surface haptics is the type of haptic feedback that we commonly associate with touch-based interactions. It involves the modulation and regulation of haptic effects on surfaces, enabling interactions and tactile sensations. A familiar example is the touch-sensitive interface of mobile phones, where the user’s finger activates certain functions or prompts specific responses. Surface haptics are commonly implemented in electronic devices with touchscreen interfaces.

Each type of haptic feedback technology offers unique features and applications, catering to different industries and user experiences.

Why Is Haptic Feedback Important?

Haptic feedback brings a multitude of benefits to users, primarily aimed at improving their overall experience. Its main purpose is to introduce a sense of presence, deliver tactile feedback, and enhance accuracy simultaneously.

Sense of Presence: Haptic feedback adds a new dimension of realism and immersion to digital interactions. By incorporating tactile sensations, users feel a greater sense of presence, blurring the line between the physical and digital realms. This heightened realism deepens the engagement and enjoyment of the experience.

Tactile Feedback: Haptic feedback provides users with tactile cues that supplement visual and auditory information. By feeling vibrations, pulses, or textures, users receive additional sensory input, enhancing their understanding and interaction with digital interfaces. This tangible feedback reinforces actions, confirms selections, and provides a more intuitive user interface.

Improved Accuracy: Haptic feedback contributes to enhanced accuracy and precision in interactions. By receiving tactile responses, users gain a finer level of control and can better judge their actions. This heightened accuracy is particularly valuable in tasks that require precision, such as gaming, virtual simulations, or creative design applications.

Overall, haptic feedback elevates the user experience by fostering a greater sense of presence, providing tactile feedback, and improving accuracy. By incorporating this technology, applications and devices can offer users a more immersive, intuitive, and engaging interaction, enhancing their satisfaction and enjoyment.

Using Haptic Feedback in Your App

Since haptic feedback is a vibrational response that can be implemented to every tap, scroll, and slide you make on an app, it’s important to understand when it can add value – and when it can get annoying.

For instance, providing a small vibration whenever your app successfully carried out an important action can enrich the UX. That’s because it would provide positive feedback closely tied to a specific action. But if you use that small vibration for every button you have in your app, it quickly loses its charm and soon starts getting in the way.

In that way, conceptualizing the use of haptic feedback is key to its success. Mobile games do a fantastic job of using them, as there are vibrations and nudges whenever you clash with an enemy or beat a level. Even if you haven’t played games in a while, you may be familiar with haptic feedback in gaming, as it was the technology that Nintendo used in its Rumble Pak all the way back in 1997.


haptic feedback technology offers various types of tactile experiences to enhance user interactions and experiences. Microfluidics enables the creation of pressure and temperature changes through the controlled release of air or liquids, with applications in clinical analysis and scientific experiments.

Surface haptics, on the other hand, focuses on modulating tactile effects on surfaces, providing interactive and tactile sensations, commonly seen in touchscreens. These advancements in haptic technology contribute to a more immersive and engaging user experience in a wide range of fields, from healthcare to consumer electronics.


What is touch feedback technology?

Touch feedback technology, also known as haptic feedback or tactile haptic feedback, utilizes the sense of touch to transmit information and communicate with the user. This can include vibrations, pulses, or other tactile sensations, commonly experienced in devices like mobile phones.

What are haptic keyboards?

Haptic keyboards refer to keyboards that provide haptic feedback or tactile sensations while typing. This feature enhances the typing experience by offering subtle vibrations or feedback with each keypress, improving accuracy and user engagement. Some mobile operating systems, such as iOS 16, have introduced haptic feedback options for their virtual keyboards.

What is haptic feedback mode on a mobile phone?

Haptic feedback mode on a mobile phone refers to the setting that enables tactile feedback when the user performs specific actions on the device. This includes vibrations or other haptic sensations that occur when interacting with the touchscreen, pressing buttons, or navigating through menus. Haptic feedback enhances the user’s experience by providing physical feedback in response to their actions.

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