What Exactly Does TouchSense Haptic Feedback Add to the Switch?

Touchscreen controls are still relevant with Nintendo's latest console.

Immersion's TouchSense Haptic Feedback has been a project to revolutionize touchscreen interfaces by providing increased immersion and responsiveness. Nintendo, eager to innovate, has announced that this new technology will be on the Nintendo Switch. And while touchscreen controls are nothing new, Immersion's new technology can bring console quality touchscreen games into the public market.

Haptic Feedback's main feature is producing advanced vibrations to simulate touch. This can create immersive and engaging videos or make actions feel more responsive. A major issue for most modern touchscreen gaming is the lack of feedback, which can make a game feel unresponsive. Nintendo can solve this common issue by creating feedback relative to the action performed by the end user. This would simulate a sense of weight with each action, enhancing engagement.

Since this feedback would be through vibration, there could be a more advanced rumble feature used in the Switch's undocked mode. Players could feel the car speeding up in a racing game or the force of an attack in an action game. This would create a new sense of immersion that makes up for the lack of power in the Switch. Other consoles (like PS4 and XB1) have used similar rumble modes in their controllers successfully, so Nintendo's focus on this technology could pay off immensely.

While this is similar to the rumble feature in consoles prior, the key difference is the control a developer has over the hardware. Immersion's technology allows developers to customize the length and intensity of the vibration. For example, the slight vibration the user feels when moving icons, on either iOS or Android smartphones is a type haptic feedback. Immersion has released an app that  highlights the intricacies its technology can perform, so Android users can truly feel the evolution in haptic feedback.

While the PS4 and Xbox One have rumble, the technology cannot be as subtle as the Switch's, due to using only conventional controllers. Touchscreens work best with haptic feedback as it already requires direct contact on a thin surface. Combine this with Immersion's advanced hardware and software, and the Switch has the ability to provide the most immersive rumble technology on console.

The most important piece of information from this announcement, however, was that it confirms that the Nintendo Switch has a touch screen. Nintendo could gain a massive library of indies if it supports the touch screen interface, especially with a launch library so small.

With Nintendo's array of control schemes, developers can create a multitude of games for the system.

 

Battery life still remains the largest concern (and roadblock) with the addition of this new technology. While the technology does not affect the battery life of most phones that use it, the Nintendo Switch is a larger, more complex machine to work with. If Haptic Feedback does negatively affect battery life, Nintendo should allow the feature to be disabled to save battery.

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Nintendo is still shooting toward the future and will take innovation at every step. Hopefully, this leads to the Switch containing numerous unique titles, but only Nintendo can make this system viable in today's market. The Nintendo Switch will be released on March 3rd.

What do you think Nintendo should do with this technology? Let us know in the comments! 

Published Jan. 25th 2017

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