Even within the tech universe, the products that really do well are often Hybrids.

Think high end cameras, touch screens or why the humble mouse was so indispensable.

Even though Steve Jobs may have hated buttons, the iPhone still has one and helps make it feel like an extension of ourselves. They just could not kill the home button.

Amazon Kindle tries to best replicate the feel of a physical book. One even comes with a premium leather case.

So why does this happen, well studies suggest it is most likely due to our brains.

We humans are highly tactile, physical creatures and our skin contains different kinds of mechanoreceptors, which allow us to perceive things like touch, pressure and the stretching of our skin. 

But we also have another very special receptor: the Pacinian corpuscle which detects vibrations and allows us to interact with tools as if they were part of our own bodies.

Imagine holding a hammer to hit a nail, tiny vibrations travel up its handle and into your hand where they are encoded as electrical signals, and sent to your brain. 

These corpuscles allow us to interact with other kinds of tools, like feel the surface of the road while driving or detect the rough texture of a piece of wool, or the smoothness of a glass windowpane or the iPad. 

Some believe Pacinian corpuscles likely evolved to allow us to wield physical tools and add to the feeling of satisfaction, pleasure as well as help us understand patterns and better adapt to the external world by building feedback loops.

“This is what makes great hybrid products so pleasurable to use and so successful.”

So next time you use your cell phone, do think about how even without real physical controls, they have found ways to engage our Pacinian corpuscles by  producing tiny artificial vibrations which makes it feel exactly like touching the real thing.

This may seem like a tiny detail — something minor, but this is what helps some of the best tech products connect with something deep, physical and fundamentally human. 

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