Haptic perception is the process of recognizing objects through touch. It involves a combination of somatosensory perception of patterns on the skin surface (e.g., edges, curvature, and texture) and proprioception of hand position and conformation.
People can rapidly and accurately identify three-dimensional objects by touch. They do so through the use of exploratory procedures, such as moving the fingers over the outer surface of the object or holding the entire object in the hand.
Gibson defined the haptic system as "The sensibility of the individual to the world adjacent to his body by use of his body". Gibson and others emphasized the close link between haptic perception and body movement: haptic perception is active exploration. The concept of haptic perception is related to the concept of extended physiological proprioception according to which, when using a tool such as a stick, perceptual experience is transparently transferred to the end of the tool.
Haptic perception relies on the forces experienced during touch. This research allows the creation of "virtual", illusory haptic shapes with different perceived qualities which has clear application in haptic technology.
Loss of the sense of touch is a catastrophic deficit that can impair walking and other skilled actions such as holding objects or using tools.
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Grunwald, M. (Ed.) 2008. Human Haptic Perception - Basics and Applications. Basel/Boston/Berlin: Birkhaeuser Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7643-7611-6