Haptic feedback is basically the vibration you feel when you are playing a SEGA game and the controller shakes in your hand when you crash into something. It has been around for more than 40 years. Apple doesn’t use haptic technology on its iPhones or iPads, even though the rest of the tech world has implemented vibration feedback in one way or another on phones and tablets. However, AppleInsider recently discovered that Apple is working on a particularly accurate haptic feedback for its mobile devices. It looks like the company may be working on a way to make the touchscreen keyboard feel more realistic.
U.S. Patent No. 8,378797, titled “Method and apparatus for localization of haptic feedback,” includes two actuators to provide feedback associated with an input surface, which is activated independently of the other.
In the patent, Apple uses a virtual keyboard as an example of the design. When the operating system logs a touch, like tapping the “a” key, the corresponding actuator beneath the contact point is activated, causing a slight vibration. Additional actuators are placed throughout the screen to act as a suppression waveform that “masks or otherwise changes the ultimate vibration at these other contact locations.”
Basically, this technology would allow users to feel a slight vibration on the tips of their fingers when they touched a letter on the virtual keyboard. We all know that touch-typing on the iPad’s keyboard is nearly impossible, simply because there is no tactile sensation for users to connect with. Haptic vibrations could, at least, add a virtual version of the little raised bump on the “F” and “J” keys so you can feel the return position better. This could potentially make the useless touch screen keyboard somewhat useful.
Apple has been rumored to be working on advanced haptic technology for some time now. There is not information as to when, or even if, the company will actually implement it in future devices. If they do, it will definitely be a great new feature.