WHAT IS HAPTICS? Haptics is the term for incorporating touch in digital environments. It may be used to program resistance into a joystick for gaming, or to add a touch sensation to gloves used in a virtual reality environment. This way, when manipulating a virtual object, a user is able to be certain when it collides with another object, and not forced to rely on what they see. Compare what it is like to walk normally and when your foot has fallen asleep. Similar to the benefit of having full feeling in your feet, adding touch to a virtual environment makes interactions less awkward and more life-like.
WHAT MAKES MATERIALS MAGNETIC? Magnetism comes from the constant movement of charged electrons in atoms. As electrons swirl around an atom, they create an electrical current, and whenever electricity moves in a current, a magnetic field is created. So magnetism is a force between electric currents: two currents flowing in the same direction attract, while those pulling in opposite directions repel. The reason some materials are magnetic, while others are not, has to do with how the electrons are ordered. A magnet is an object made of magnetic materials; naturally occurring magnets are known as lodestones. Every magnet has at least one north pole and one south pole. In fact, if you take a bar magnet and break it into two pieces, each of the smaller pieces will still have a north and south pole. The Earth itself is a giant magnet with a north and south pole, which is why a magnetic compass's needle always points north/south.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.