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I'm currently working on an iOS app which implements different types of clinical tools for doctors. On a basic level, every clinical tool includes a lot of questions, i.e. controls (buttons, segmented controls, etc.), and displays a result calculated from the inputs. The result is usually divided in ranges of values (let's say, it shows if you're not sick/somewhat sick/very sick).

I've been thinking of implementing haptic feedback while the doctors are interacting with the tools as a way of saying "the result went into a higher/lower value range". In some cases, this would inform the doctor that they don't need to continue answering the questions, as the result is now at a maximum/minimum and save them time. The intensity of the feedback would be according to the range of the value, with more powerful feedback as the result goes into higher ranges.

However, most of the usage of haptic feedback across default iOS apps, as well as some of the third-party ones, is mostly focused on direct user actions (pressing a button, toggling a switch, scrolling a spinner, etc.). I don't want to go down this route, since a lot of the clinical tools are quite extensive—getting haptic feedback at the 15th yes/no toggle consecutively would get annoying fast.

Are there any general guidelines/consensus of using haptics for direct actions vs the result of the action? What is your personal experience? Does using haptic feedback in this manner in clinical tools preclude using it in a more "traditional" manner elsewhere in the app?

  • "I've been thinking of implementing haptic feedback while the doctors are interacting with the tools " do you mean permanent response or each time they do an interaction or when exactly? – Alvaro Feb 4 '17 at 14:50
  • @Alvaro First option is every time they interact with the tool, and second option is only when the interaction changes the result/output of the clinical tool considerably – Marko Nikolovski Feb 4 '17 at 14:59
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As you comment in the question haptics in touch devices can be used for:

The usage you propose belongs to the second case. It is important the user understands:

  1. the feedback comes from a warning and is not simply an interaction confirmation
  2. what the message is

If the user understands these two points it can be a helpful feature. How to implement it in your scenario is not easy, in my opinion. The first point specially as the status change happens just after the user selected a certain option, and thus after an interaction with the app.

Depending on the importance of such information, the feedback can be implemented discrete or more insistent. But in any of the two cases an explicit message of some kind might be needed. If a simple notice is ok and the user will continue filling options, a single haptic-response when the critical option is selected could be enough. If the form should stop, then once reached that option the feedback appears every time the user enters a new option; basically the idea is that there is some difference between the previous non-haptic-response options and the haptic-response ones.

  • The result/output of the tool is already visible at all times on the top of the screen. The haptic feedback would just reinforce that the result changed considerably. Thanks for your answer. – Marko Nikolovski Feb 5 '17 at 10:08

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