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Are You Ready For Haptic Feedback On iDevices?

Haptic feedback rumors first hit the Web around the launch of new iPad. But it didn't materialize, as the technology went public only at the end of last year, with the developers claiming most tech companies are interested in it. As they said back then, they need additional time to adapt it to mobile devices.

Meanwhile, Apple has been granted several haptic feedback-related patents: one in March, another in May, another in August . . . and now there’s a fourth patent which joins the line of Apple inventions.

haptic feedback
The most recent Apple patent reveals that Apple is searching for the proper haptics solution for its mobile devices, and the rumor that Apple is working to add more buzz to its iDevices is getting closer to reality than ever imagined.

Apple's latest shows the company is working on a linear vibrator, which provides localized haptic feedback. The background to the invention is that many electronic devices already use linear vibrators to provided haptic feedback by vibrating or shaking the device enclosure. Just think about your iPhone or any other mobile handset: it can be set to vibrate mode so that the phone body vibrates when you receive a call. Games are even using the iPhone's vibrating ability to give you feedback as to whether you did something well or poorly. However, this type of haptic feedback is pretty general, simply vibrating the entire electronic device.

Going further, a localized haptic feedback would be desirable. For instance, a touch-based keyboard can be a hassle if you don't have tactile (or currently only audible) feedback to detect whether the input mechanism was adequately touched. In this case a vibrating iPhone wouldn’t be the solution, and the user would likely dump the feature.

Apple's solution: Fig. 1 is a cross-sectional view of one sample embodiment of a linear vibrator 100. This vibrator can be configured to go active when a user touches a particular portion of the touch-screen of mobile device. When the sensor senses the touch—on the proper area—the vibrator is activated in boosted mode, and it will provide "haptic feedback directly under the area in which the touch was sensed". In other words, the user gets feedback to confirm the touch.

We don't know whether this is only limited to pressing a button such as on a keyboard, but every sign indicates that Apple is indeed readying a device implementing haptic feedback technology.

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