Bridging with the inclusion of positioning, shifting and aligning the attacking lines.
Why do we learn to bridge using contact? We need to use our eyes when there is no contact but when we come close the sense of contact would work better. More so, if we are older and our eyes can’t see as well or as fast.
Our sense of touch can be educated and refined over time. The older you get the better your sense of touch. Using touch does not mean we have to play a passive game. The use of touching can elevate our active game. This is why you find that when you play hands with masters they seem to be able to react before you have even finished your movement. A master would always seem to be a few steps ahead of you. Someone like Grandmaster Cheong of Ngok Gar Kuen fame can deliver 6-7 movements before I finished processing how to deal with his first movement.
For the learning of Tai Chi you can think of playing hands as the living lab for learning how to use the forms that you learn. You can try out, analyze, test out, repeat many times, increase the speed and pressure, to find what works best for you, and even iron out your weak points.