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Future Taptic Engine can extrude part of an iPhone case for tactile notification


Future Taptic Engine can extrude part of an iPhone case for tactile notification

AppleTaptic Engine could see big changes in the future, by contextually providing users with physical feedback only in specific places on an iPhone or Apple Watch, or warping the device’s case to give the user a tactile alert.

Haptic feedback is a common part of smartphone use, with the use of motors that vibrate the mobile device to almost silently alert the user to events, either separately or in concert with an audible notification. Although generally limited to notifications, haptic feedback is also employed in other confirmation-based ways, such as telling users that they pressed a key on a software keyboard or a button with Haptic Touch.

While haptic feedback is extremely helpful, it’s also potentially a hassle. Repeated hum can be distracting to the user or others. Turning off the notification completely could mean that the user misses something important, making it less desirable to turn it off completely.

In a patent granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday titled “Touch Notifications for Electronic Devices,” Apple continues on the subject of physical notifications to the user. However, rather than bluntly vibrating the entire device, he proposes to make only a specific area of ​​the device the point where physical feedback can be felt, while having a quieter effect on the rest of the device.

In theory, this will result in a less intrusive and more tunable experience for users than conventional notifications, and in some situations, it could allow users the option to search for notifications simply by tapping on a certain part of the device.

For this research, the area for focused tactile feedback would be defined on the device. This will vary, but consists primarily of areas where a user can tap with their fingers, but not too often and without impeding normal use. Suggested areas include an Apple Watch side panel, a MacBook trackpad edge, or an iPhone screen bezel corner.

Localized haptics can be made to only sit on small portions of a device.

One image suggests that the region could be the silicone tip of the earbuds, which could mean that the wearer might feel a notification, but without any annoying noise interrupting music playback.

The device could simply be built to focus the vibrations from the haptic feedback in that specific area. It can also include some kind of bump or ridge that could protrude on request both to inform users of its purpose and to accentuate lower power vibrations.

As notifications may differ in type, so may vibrations in that area. Multiple actuators could be used to create different feelings and strengths to differentiate notifications for the user.

The system may not necessarily have to rely on localized hum, but it could still provide hyperlocalized notifications. These could be controlled by a variety of actuators, including linear, magnetic, reluctance, and electroactive versions.

An iPhone with portions dedicated to activating sections of the case.

The patent lists its inventors as Per Haakan Linus Persson and Steven J. Taylor. It was originally released on May 22, 2018.

Apple files numerous patent applications weekly, but while the existence of a patent indicates that they are of interest to the company’s research and development teams, it does not guarantee that the concepts will appear in a future product or service.

Haptics have appeared in many different patent applications over the years, and in some cases localized haptic feedback has emerged. Suggested a June 2020 presentation Apple was considering inserting some kind of haptic into the buttons of an iPhone.

A more exotic form of presentation is the “keyless keyboard” concept from March 2018, where Apple suggested using a secondary display as a software keyboard for a MacBook, with haptics used to mimic key pressure.

The Apple Pencil has also been a target for filings, including suggestions that it could include shifting vibrations and weights, use haptics to simulate drawing on paper, and even haptics that use cutting force feedback instead of vibrations.