Being blind means that I have one less sensory method to perceive the world around me, placing higher necessity to implement auditory, tactile, smell, taste, and gut instincts. For example, navigating with the white cane employs tactile feedback from the cane touching the ground, auditory input for surroundings, and cognitive abilities for mapping and navigating. When working within the digital world through computers and smart phones, the majority of what I see comes through auditory channels through text to speech capabilities of screen readers to sounds from alerts.
In today’s alert driven tech world, its not uncommon to reach a saturation point for sensory overload from listening to so many different signals from the multiple talking devices on my desk. to the natural sounds in the world, like lawn mowers, family talking in the next room, or passing traffic. Often times, I become irritated when an alert comes in that distracts me, eliciting negative feelings towards that lawn mower, traffic, or innocent giggles from my daughter at play.
This is why haptic feedback on the Apple Watch creates a bit of happiness. The gentle tap on my wrist is just enough to let me know that an alert or message has come across, without increasing the strain on my auditory processing abilities. In fact, that nudge evokes a momentary state of mindfulness, as my focus turns from concentrating on the world between my Macbook and my ears, and turn towards acknowledging the other stimuli from the environment. During this brief reflective pause, I am able to appreciate the gel keyboard overlay, the birds chirping in the trees, the feeling of the mat under my desk, and most importantly, how happy my laughing daughter sounds.
Taking this one step further, I am looking forwards to a point when a loved one might use the haptic feedback function of an Apple Watch to let me know that they require my attention or sending me their heart beat to let me know they care for me. Additionally, I am looking forwards to testing out other apps that might employ haptic feedback to remind me to tae more pauses like this to meditate, much like Apple does with the standing notifications. Maybe an app that combines both a singing bowl chime with the wrist tap for breathing exercises. Differently, I am looking forwards to navigational solutions what will implement tap alerts in conjunction with auditory cues for approaching streets, upcoming turns, or approaching points of interest.
Regardless, I am happy with haptic feedback, and forecast a bright future for these taps.