Haptics as seen from Books

The last Haptic Symposium in Vancouver celebrated the 20 years of this conference and in that occasion Bernard Dov Adelstein provided an interesting historical talk about the evolution of the field. As a mean of presenting such an evolution along the years he employed Google N-Gram Viewer. This tool allows to search for the statistics of word occurrences in the large corpus of English books scanned by Google and covering a large set of whole published books. In this post I would like to share with you what can be understood by looking at such statistics.

The starting point is the term “haptic interface” that emerged when the first interfaces started to be recognized as something beyond robotics and tele-operation. It is well known that haptic interfaces emerged from the domain of teleoperation when it was clear that the slave could have been replaced by a computer generated model:


What is specifically interesting is the following comparison between haptic perception and the technological development of haptic interfaces:


In some way haptic interfaces are related to virtual reality being a fundamental tool for feeling of being somewhere, but actually haptics is something beyond it and this type of interfaces are more pervasive. This can be appreciated by the following graph in which VR is clearly much larger but it has received some settle back in recent years. For reference we have added the domain of augmented reality:


Another point of view is more related to the one of haptic technologies, for example comparing vibrotactile and tactile display:

One of the topics of my interest in haptics is haptic rendering that is the software aspect that involves the generation of the virtual forces while interfacing with geometry. The interest in this topic is comparable with the one of the general field:


The final consideration is that this tool is quite interesting in providing an overview of interest in a field, provided that the n-grams are sufficiently specific. I am open to suggestion of adding other comparison on specific aspects of this field. It would be interesting to extend this analysis to publications to understand if similar patters do exist, presenting more detailed curves and probably an anticipatory shift due to the nature of paper publications.


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