You probably know what haptics is: touch; the study of touch; interfaces that make use of touch, including those that stimulate and simulate touch – electronic devices that give feedback through vibrations, pressure, and such like. The word comes from Ancient Greek ἅπτω haptō ‘touch, grasp, fasten to’.

Well, as Adriana Cloud (@adicloud) pointed out today, haptics implies the existence of mishaptics.

Yes, yes, mishap is not actually related to haptic (it uses the same hap that shows up in happen), fine, blah blah blah. Play with us. There is plenty of use for mishaptics. If you have a video game controller that vibrates for feedback but goes out of control, that seems like mishaptics. If someone uses that vibrating controller for unapproved purposes and experiences difficulties as a result, that is also mishaptics. If a surgeon is using a haptic interface for remote or laparoscopic surgery and the feedback is incorrect, causing things to be cut that should not have been cut, that is most certainly mishaptics.

But it goes beyond that. Remember, haptics is touch and the study of touch, not just in electronic devices but in the wider world as well. It’s when you reach to shake hands with someone and miss. It’s when you try to hold someone’s hand in a dark theatre and stick your hand in their soft drink. It’s when you’re out on the deck in the dusk and you reach for your beer and grab a raccoon instead. And, I think, it’s every time you step barefoot on a piece of Lego.

But yeah, it’s definitely when unexpected electronic haptic interface things happen. Virtual reality losing its virtue. The field of teledildonics opens up mind-blowing possibilities.

So, uh… anyone got any particularly good mishaptic stories to share?

One response to “mishaptics

  1. A particular type of aircraft I used to fly had the flap actuator handle about 10cm above the dive brake actuator handle. Each deployed when its handle was lifted, then pulled rearward. Both handles were like bicycle grips. First the flaps (to increase lift) and then the dive brakes (to decrease lift) would be used in landing. Guess what, about once a year, some pilot would mishaptically do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s