By Eimear Dodd Journalism MA student, @TheCity_Dublin editor, @Irish_TechNews.  Image from pixabay

Here are some insights from a recent report about the haptic industry and the commercialisation of virtual reality (VR).

Haptic technologies are features that enhance the user experience in many familiar products. Whether as notification provision in a vibrating smartphone, tension building in a video game controller, or input confirmation in an industrial scanner, haptics technologies are in billions of electronics devices.

The new report from IDTechEx Research, Haptics 2017-2027: Technologies, Markets and Players, suggests that the haptics industry will be worth 2.8 billion dollars by 2027.

After the huge success that saw haptic actuators adopted in products like smartphones, the industry then suffered increasing commoditisation, high levels of competition and shrinking margins. The eccentric rotating mass (ERM) motor dominated for many years, and it is only recently that linear resonant actuators (LRAs) have taken significant amounts of market share, enabling some fresh growth. Even this change has not significantly shifted the haptics hardware landscape, as similar players tend to control market share around both types of actuator.

The entry barriers for players with new haptics technologies have also been high. Whilst companies large and small used new technologies to provide new sensations, form factors or ideas, few came close to upsetting the status quo.

As such, these players began to look for new markets for their new haptic actuators. In the automotive space, many players have advanced significantly along the long journey towards commercial validation and adoption, but progress has been slow. The boom in interest around wearable technology brought new players and new interest. For example, smartwatches could have new haptics in the body of the device but progress was slow.

The report argues that recent developments within VR offer new opportunities to the haptics industry. Whilst VR itself is nothing new, widespread commercially available platforms have only hit the market in the last 12-18 months. This has been fuelled by billions of dollars of investment, with thousands of players involved including all the largest technology players in the world. Not only this, but all of the largest players in VR (Oculus, HTC and Sony today) have explicitly defined the existing haptics as a key opportunity for technology development in the future. The challenges are still significant; maturity (reliability, scalability and price-point) of many emerging haptics is still far from adequate for adoption.

More information about the report is available here.

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