The new MacBook proudly carries haptic technology in the form of its Force Touch trackpad, which uses electromagnetic vibrations to give physical feedback and simulate clicking – and now a patent application suggests all of your Apple kit might soon be buzzing happily under your fingertips.
And that leaves us buzzing with anticipation – we’ve seen a haptic future on the horizon for some time, but with more and more tech companies exploring the options (and some, like Fujitsu, nailing it) it seems like that future might not be so far away.
JUST ANOTHER PATENT?
Of course, it could all mean diddly squat: Apple files thousands upon thousands of patents, as do all tech companies. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that they’ll never implement the technology, and it may just be the next in a long line of fun-spoiling attempts to ward off cut-price copycats.
Indeed, the recent patent is based upon a similar one filed in 2009; that, too, focused on virtual keyboards, and never came to fruition. And in 2012 we came over all dribbly and excited at the prospect of touchy-feely buttons on the iPhone 5… which never appeared.
Here at Stuff, though, we still like to dream – so read on for key-free fun…
Haptic feedback technology in essence adds a further dimension of interaction with your gadgets. It’s the same technology being used to allow humans on Earth to control robots in space. Like the Force Touch trackpad, it means utilising the human sense of touch to deliver simulated sensations which aren’t, strictly speaking, real.
What benefit would this bring to an iMac or MacBook? In the same way that the new trackpad no longer requires you to physically click, instead sensing the pressure exerted by users’ fingers, so a virtual keyboard could do away with keys altogether. The result would be a simpler, slimmer and sleeker design (something Jony Ive has told us Apple loves many, many times).
The patent application also details how individual keystrokes might be picked up using capacitance, inductive sensors or lasers.
It’s sci-fi made real, and, with Taptic feedback already present in the Apple Watch, the vibrations are good, man.
Source: Cult of Mac