Bob Heubel“We live in a society of the image, in which there is often nothing actually there to feel. The inability to touch the subject matter of the images that surround us… produces a sense of alienation, the feeling of being out of touch with one’s society, one’s environment. Where more and more the user becomes an isolated fragment in an indifferent universe.” - Constance Classen

For many, social isolation goes hand in hand with technology, but how can developers change the way we think about the technology we use to create something engaging and, most of all, immersive?

There are several examples of it already, particularly in the gaming industry (a form of interactive media), but what about the mobile market? How can things like tactile feedback change the way we think of technology or, more specifically, the mobile UI?

In Screens with Feeling, Bob Heubel of covered all of these questions while exposing the power of tactile feedback, how it keeps us immersed and how it continues to evolve today.

"Our sense of touch works with our embodied cognition to affect the user experience," explained Heubel. "Touch feedback fulfills a need for tactile gratification that is sorely missed in media." Something as simple as touch capabilities in a smartphone or tablet makes all the difference, and brings purpose back to the user.

Bob HeubelIn addition to touch, audio and visual elements may also add to the experience. Incorporating and highlighting these features can help bring us one step closer to total immersion in the technological space, whether that be for entertainment, social interaction or even education.

Tactile design also takes us one step closer to more responsive design (which I will cover more thoroughly in my article on George Zamfir's talk, What Accessible Design Can Teach You About Responsive Design) for those with disabilities or simply for those looking for something more accessible in their UI. "[Giving] the user tactical effect options is always helpful for capturing greater user acceptance."

These design choices make things more immersive, realistic and ultimately satisfying for the user. Focusing on the tactile design can even prove to become more profitable for the development team. Always take your market into account and the skies the limit what you can do to further engage users.

Bob Heubel presented Screens with Feeling at SCREENS 2013. Above photos courtesy of N. Maxwell Lander. 

Erika Szabo

Erika Szabo (@erikaszabo) is a gaming, tech and sexuality blogger living in Toronto. Her love for technology knows no bounds. You can find her musings at Retroware TVEggplantexoxoamore and Youtube.