Haptics

haptics

Hi, welcome to the section of the site that focuses on Haptics.

What's Haptics? It's a Greek word that means "I touch" – so it's the study of our sense of touch in medical, biological or technological applications - haptics in technology.

Touch is also a way to communicate with others.  I'll even dare to say that this is actually the most basic communication tool we have:  is there a more direct and intimate way to interact with our world than using touch?

Haptics is closely related to the study of Proxemics (the study of space in body language). In both cases we deal with personal space and territory - touch is usually the direct result of allowing others into our intimate space. We obviously wouldn't allow others to touch us if we don't feel comfortable being around them.

In this section I'm going to discuss what's so special about Haptics, what advantages you can get by using touch in your body language and how to implement it in your communication. We will also take a closer examination at some common ways to be "in touch" with others and their meanings.

What's So Special About it?

There are 2 unique qualities to Haptics that separates it from any other type of communication:

1. Touch is the most 'real' way to sense the world around us. It's hard to believe something is real unless we can actually touch and feel it. So while we take it mostly for granted, our sense of touch should not be taken lightly.

When I was younger I imagined that living without a sense of touch would be so cool - to live with a supernatural resistance to any pain! Obviously, it was a childish notion; especially after I figured that without this sense I can be burned alive without even noticing. There are actually some disorders and diseases that cause a deficiency in the sense of touch, they are no fun by any means.

But why am I talking about this?

Because without the sense of touch we would feel very isolated and helpless.  Our skin, the largest organ of our body, is also a sensor - it's filled with many sensory nerves sensitive to heat and cold, pressure, vibration and pain.

We receive an endless stream of information about our environment from our skin.  In fact, studies show that babies who lack a sense of touch have a low chance of survival, in contrast to the lack of other senses. That's probably why it's the first sense we develop when we're embryos.

feel the world

Feel the world around you

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In short - touch is the initial and most basic form of communication we have as humans and animals. 

2. Touch is a very emotional type of communication, you can say it's the most 'human' contact we have. In a sense, it's like delivering our emotions in a physical form. There's probably no better way to comfort someone but to embrace and hold them, or to show your disapproval with a sounding slap on the face.

With these 2 qualities in mind we can understand that we're dealing here with something very "touchy" and volatile – it's like an emotional dynamite. It's a strong communication tool, perhaps the strongest, but if it's used improperly it will backfire hard… and that's why it deserves some close attention. So I've prepared a small guide, that hopefully will clear some misconceptions and allow you to communicate better with touch:


The Power of Touch

What are the benefits of using touch with others?

First of all, let me clarify that touch by default is something we genetically crave for, it's not as if we can turn it off. We are born with the desire to touch and be touched. We're not machines and we need that type of connection with others.

When we fulfill that need, we get more healthy, happy and content in our lives. Here are some demonstrations to the power of touch:

Who doesn't like massages?

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1. Massages relieve pain and stress and therefore prevent many disease related to anxiety and high blood pressure. It's a natural way to accelerate the automatic healing processes of our body.
"All you need is love" – and what's the most direct and honest way of showing love? That brings me to the next point:

2. Touch is an integral component in creating physical intimacy, the type of bond we all care for.

3. Touch is a comfort tool, that's why we use it even to comfort ourselves. You can read more on self touch here, and no, it's not that kind of self touch I mean!

4. Touch can serve as an amplifier – every message you send can be reinforced tenfold if you use touch along with it. Of course it's a double edged sword, if someone has trouble trusting you, for example, you can just reinforce that feeling by touching him.

5. The last but not least thing to consider about touch is that this is probably the most efficient tool in creating bonds and rapport with others. Be it in courtship or in childcare, a soft touch says "I care for you and want to be in contact". The physical connection often establishes the emotional connection.

That's why knowing when and where to touch is invaluable in creating and strengthening connections. Do it right and you can build trust and credibility, do it wrong and get yourself slapped.


I invite you to read more about physical intimacy and touch here:

Physical Intimacy - Part 1

Physical Intimacy - Part 2

Physical Intimacy - Part 3 - Kino Escalation

Types of Touch

There are many costumes and ways you can touch others and each carries with it some sentimental value or purpose. We're going to explore in depth some forms of haptics in the articles below for closer examination.

Keep in mind that these examples are by no means the only ways you can communicate by touch. And as always, I recommend that you explore and experiment by yourself to truly understand Haptics and body language.  What you learn in theory will stay a theory unless you try it out.

Hugs

Ah… what's warms the heart more than a hug?

While it's pretty straightforward in its meaning, there are some subtexts and deviations I want to refer to.

hugs

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Kissing

Kissing is actually something that probably evolved from mouth-feeding (uh, gross…right?) Like a mother feeding her child, like we see birds do.

But unlike animals, we humans adapted this gesture to serve other forms, and that's why we have so many kiss types. (coming soon)

kissing

Awww...

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Holding Hands

From early age we hold the hands of parents and teachers to lead us – it's the symbol of unity and trust. But how to hold hands, and with whom it's acceptable? This can widely differ in many parts of the world.

holding hands

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