WHAT IS ERGONOMICS? This is a branch of science that strives to design the device to fit the user, rather than the other way around. In the modern office, it most commonly relates to the physical stresses placed on joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, bones, even hearing and eyesight, along with other environmental factors that can adversely affect comfort and health. Ergonomics deals with the interaction of technology and work environments with the human body, and involves such things as anatomy, physiology, and psychology in the design of chairs, desks, computer accessories, the design of car controls and instruments -- in short, any kind of product that could help relieve potential repetitive strain from a given job or task.
WHAT IS HAPTICS? Haptics is the term for incorporating touch into digital, robotic, or real environments. It may be used to program resistance into a joystick for gaming, to add a touch sensation to gloves used in a virtual reality simulation, or to aid in physical therapy. This way, when manipulating an object (which is sometimes virtual), a user is able to be certain when it collides with another object, and not forced to rely on what he or she sees. 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.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.