What is Tactile Feedback?

Jan 18, 2016

road-sign-808733_960_720When researching the different technologies used in touchscreen devices and equipment, you may come across something known as “tactile feedback.” Based on the name alone, it’s difficult to determine what exactly this technology is, let alone how it works. So if you’re still scratching your head trying to grasp the concept of tactile feedback, keep reading for a practical explanation of the term.

Tactile Feedback Defined

Tactile feedback is essentially a physical response on a device from user input. Even if you are unfamiliar with the technology, chances are you’ve a device with tactile feedback before. It’s used in smartphones, tablets, major appliances, car navigation systems and more. When you perform a command on the respective device, it may respond by creating a slight vibration, indicating that it properly registered your command.

Benefits of Tactile Feedback

Although simple in design and function, tactile feedback offers several key benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. The greatest benefit is increased accuracy. According to some studies, the average typing speed is 41 words per minute, while the average typing accuracy is 92%. Missed keys, duplicate keys, and other typing errors are bound to happen, but tactile feedback can help lower the risk. When you feel the slight vibration created through tactile feedback, you’ll know the key was pressed and registered by the device. If you do not feel the vibration, you’ll know the device did not register your keypress.

Tactile feedback may also improve user satisfaction. There’s just something satisfying associated with the tactile feedback that makes using compatible devices more enjoyable.

How Tactile Feedback Works

Now for the million-dollar question: how exactly does tactile feedback work? There’s really no easy answer to this question, as the technology varies from device to device. With that said, most tactile feedback devices feature a vibrating device (known as an actuator) that’s powered by an electric circuit. The system may also contain a microcontroller that’s used to determine when to vibrate and the level of vibration. The system will automatically trigger when the operator presses a key, telling the actuator to vibrate.

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