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CES 2019 | The year haptics grew up

Robert Blenkinsopp is recovering from post-CES jetlag by admiring a shiny CES 2019 Innovation Honoree Award sat in the Ultrahaptics office.

If CES 2018 was a coming-out party for haptic technology, 2019 was the year when we all grew up and got serious.

CES 2019 innovation award

From multiple haptic technologies – including Ultrahaptics’ STRATOS Inspire – winning Innovation Awards to Arrow’s integration of mid-air haptics into their visitor experience, haptics everywhere was moving from development to production. Read on to find out some of the reasons Popular Science named haptics one of the buzzwords of the show.


Pervasive haptics

“The number of implementations are near-endless,” wrote Make Use Of about Ultrahaptics’ technology. (They also named us as one of the 10 coolest new products of CES 2019.)  Haptic technologies are pervasive, and there’s a huge and ever-growing list of use-cases.

ultrahaptics automotive system

On the Ultrahaptics stand, visitors experienced the future of automotive HMI. Invisible, dynamic automotive infotainment controls floated in mid-air above the central console and came to their hands when needed. (A recent study suggested these sorts of controls can significantly reduce driver distraction.)

digital signage crowds ultrahaptics

The room-scale multi-player Crystal Cave VR experience used multiple haptic modules to create an immersive magical environment. Visitors collected and channelled magic using their bare hands – and felt extraordinary tactile sensations as they did.

Meanwhile, the haptic horror experience Affected: The Visit, created in collaboration with leading VR specialist Fallen Planet Studios, made VR seriously spooky by adding a rich sense of touch to a virtual haunted house. (Have a look at this visitor’s reaction to see just how impactful and memorable haptic experiences can be.)

Haptic solutions

Arrow and Ultrahaptics marketing campaign

Over on the Arrow stand, mid-air haptics were used not just in a product demonstration but as an integral part of the company’s Create | Make | Manage CES marketing campaign. The campaign combined digital signage screens with gesture tracking and mid-air haptic effects to create an engaging and interactive brand experience – an approach also used by Zerolight and Porsche in their interactive car configurator demo for large-format signage displays.

porsche ultrahaptics zerolight demo

Daily DOOH described 3D gesture control with haptics as “the next big thing” for digital signage and as “not just prototypes either, working solutions.”

In the world of displays, Dimenco launched their Simulated Reality Development Kit and announced plans for consumer launch in 2020. Their 3D Simulated Reality display integrates Ultrahaptics’ technology into a glasses-free 3D, multi-sensory display. (Charlie Fink wrote in Forbes, “3D without glasses. This is a very big deal.”)

Elsewhere, fellow haptics company Teslasuit also won an Innovation Honoree Award for its haptic suit, Continental won one for their 3D touchscreen surfaces, and HaptX were showing off their latest gloves (not to mention visiting the Ultrahaptics stand). Last but not least, everyone seemed to be talking about Razer’s Hypersense haptic gaming chair.

Talking about a haptic generation

As the haptic products at this year’s CES hit the market over the next few, they’re going to change the way we interact forever. Our sense of touch has unique strengths that cannot be replicated by any other sense, and haptic feedback is nothing more or less than an entirely new way for humans and machines to communicate.

In ten years’ time, the children growing up today won’t be able to believe we once interacted with machines using only audio-visual technology. If you’d like to join the journey changing the future of interaction, sign up to our newsletter or feel free to contact us at any time.

Robert Blenkinsopp is Ultrahaptics’ employee #1. As VP Product, he explores and develops new forms of interaction enabled by mid-air haptic technology. He can be contacted here.

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