This blog has had three names, including this latest one. When I started blogging in 2007, it was called Tactilicious. Then it changed to Hapticity. Both are plays on words having to do with the sense of touch, which has been a key focus of my career.
The new name, Contrary Motion, is different – it comes from music theory, and refers to two melodic lines moving in opposite directions.
This change doesn’t signify a move away from the themes I’ve been posting about for these past (almost) ten years. I’ll continue to write about anything I find interesting. But it signifies that 2017 marks the year that content creators, artists, and even the investor community will recognize on a mass scale that technology for the sense of touch can no longer play second fiddle to technologies for our other senses. Touch matters, and it will only matter more as VR, wearables, AI, and robotics really get going.
We’ve been building to this moment for a long time. Lots of people have been doing amazing things with haptics for many years. But I noticed something change in 2016 – when I met new people and told them what I do, a majority of them already knew what haptics was. Sure, I live in one of the most tech-forward regions of the planet, but signs of change show up here earlier than other places. We’ve passed a tipping point.
Contrary motion is a term from music, which fits with my background. But the meta-concept of two threads moving toward and away from each other to generate results that humans find compelling can be found in many other domains – for instance, dramatic conflict, or visual contrast. We are watching a fascinating shift where haptics stops being a technology and starts being just another form of creative expression.
In haptics, contrary motion even has a literal meaning, unlike in music, where it’s only a metaphor. Vibration is an oscillation, or back-and-forth motion. Forces push against people, and people push back, and through that interaction, meaning is generated.
We’re about to see haptics flourish on a scale never before imagined. Let’s talk about it!