Possible Apple tablet multi-touch tactile keyboard detailed

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's forthcoming tablet could employ a dynamic surface that gives users tactile feedback when typing in order to identify individual keys, according to a new patent application revealed this week.



Using an "articulating frame," the surface of such a device would create physical bumps or dots for the user to feel when it is in keyboard mode. Those surface features would retract and disappear when the device is not being used to type. It is detailed in an application entitled "Keystroke Tactility Arrangement on a Smooth Touch Surface." It is similar to an application first filed back in 2007.



"The articulating frame may provide key edge ridges that define the boundaries of the key regions or may provide tactile feedback mechanisms within the key regions," the application reads. "The articulating frame may also be configured to cause concave depressions similar to mechanical key caps in the surface."



The tactile feedback keyboard is revealed as one anonymous source told The New York Times that users would be "surprised" how they interact with the tablet.



Another example in the application describes a rigid, non-articulating frame beneath the surface. It would provide higher resistance when pressing away from the key centers, but softer resistance at the center of a virtual key, guiding hands to the proper location.







The patent notes that pointing and typing require very different needs: Pointing is best on a smooth surface with little friction, while typing is preferred on keys with edges that fingertips can feel. Simply putting Braille-like dots on the 'F' and 'J' keys, as is on most physical keyboards, is not enough, because it does not address alignment issues with outside keys.



Conversely, while placing dots on every single key on a surface would help a user find their location, it would take away the smooth surface necessary for touch controls that users are accustomed to on a glass screen like the iPhone.



The patent aims to offer the best of both worlds with a new device that could dynamically change its surface.







"Preferably, each key edge comprises one to four distinct bars or Braille-like dots," the application reads. "When constructed in conjunction with a capacitive multi-touch surface, the key edge ridges should separated to accommodate the routing of the drive electrodes, which may take the form of rows, columns, or other configurations."



The system would also intelligently determine when the user wishes to type, and when they intend to use the screen as a pointing device.



"Specifically, the recognition software commands lowering of the frame when lateral sliding gestures or mouse clicking activity chords are detected on the surface," the application states. Alternatively, when homing chords (i.e., placing the fingers on the home row) or asynchronous touches (typing activity) is detected on the surface, the recognition software commands raising of the frame."



Apple filed the Application on Aug. 28, 2009. The invention is credited to Wayne Carl Westerman of San Francisco, Calif.



Another Apple patent application revealed this week deals with a multi-touch controller that uses transparent touch sensors and does not require an opaque surface. The description is included in a patent application entitled "Multipoint Touch Surface Controller."



"While virtually all commercially available touch screen based systems available today provide single point detection only and have limited resolution and speed, other products available today are able to detect multiple touch points," the application reads. "Unfortunately, these products only work on opaque surfaces because of the circuitry that must be placed behind the electrode structure."



The described invention would include drive electronics that stimulate the multi-touch sensor and sensing circuits for reading the sensor in a single integrated package. This is said to be different from some previous multi-touch technology, which has been limited in terms of detectable points due to the size of the detection circuitry.







The invention, filed for by Apple on Aug. 27, 2009, is credited to Steven P. Hotelling, Christoph H. Krah and Brian Quentin Huppi of California.







In October, another patent application showed off how a multi-touch tablet interface might work, with a surface that could detect ten individual fingers, along with resting palms, and identify each of them separately. The hand-based system was said to allow "unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device."



Apple is said to have been at work on its rumored tablet device device for many years and has been the number one focus of CEO Steve Jobs since returning to his company this summer.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    The tactile surface has been done before but in a hugely clunky fashion so this should be pretty interesting if they got it to work in a tablet form. It's also been one of those elements missing from creating a Starfire like work surface.



    http://www.asktog.com/starfire/
  • Reply 2 of 60
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Another Apple patent application revealed this week deals with a multi-touch controller that uses transparent touch sensors and does not require an opaque surface. The description is included in a patent application entitled "Multipoint Touch Surface Controller."



    for me this is the most interesting part, how is it gonna' look like, tranparent enough.
  • Reply 3 of 60
    roos24roos24 Posts: 170member
    Getting more excited already! As with the iPhone, we can expect great innovations from Apple.



    I'm not sure how much professionals will get out of this machine, since there's mostly talk about watching movies, and reading papers, magazines and books.



    Too bad that so many possible features are already made public way before the actual presentation. It takes a little bit away from the surprise effects. But that will be unavoidable I guess, in fact, more and more so.
  • Reply 4 of 60
    One thing is for certain, Apple will...yet again...shake the industry with this tablet device. Godspeed Steve...Godspeed
  • Reply 5 of 60
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    a surface that could detect ten individual fingers, along with resting palms, and identify each of them separately.



    Let?s get rid of all that wasted space below my keyboard on my MBP. Give me full multitouch across the entire palm rest with visual feedback.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Roos24 View Post


    I'm not sure how much professionals will get out of this machine, since there's mostly talk about watching movies, and reading papers, magazines and books.



    I suppose wirelessly controlling presentations could be effective, but we?ve seen Apple forcus on the consumer end of things first and foremost. I admit I couldn?t see how a tablet could be used at all but I was thinking about the previous tablets running a desktop OS and thinking failure, not the currently proposed device with a tailor ecosystem.
  • Reply 6 of 60
    Tactile keyboard rumored... tactile keyboard missing from device when announced... everyone disappointed.



    In every rumor mill, there's a point at which expectations get set in unrealistic ways. I seriously doubt there is going to be a virtual keyboard on this thing. If there's not, everyone that reads this story is going to be wanting more despite the fact that the tablet will likely be an extremely good and usable device.
  • Reply 7 of 60
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bweston View Post


    Tactile keyboard rumored... tactile keyboard missing from device when announced... everyone disappointed.



    In every rumor mill, there's a point at which expectations get set in unrealistic ways. I seriously doubt there is going to be a virtual keyboard on this thing. If there's not, everyone that reads this story is going to be wanting more despite the fact that the tablet will likely be an extremely good and usable device.



    I?m expecting an ULV Core-i7, a dual-core Atom and a Cortex-A9 ARM. Anything less than all three and I?m going to come onto AI to spout nonsense about Apple being doomed.
  • Reply 8 of 60
    Not counting on this one. A tactile keyboard with bumps is just... weird. And over engineered (read: sloppy).
  • Reply 9 of 60
    zepzep Posts: 130member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I’m expecting an ULV Core-i7, a dual-core Atom and a Cortex-A9 ARM. Anything less than all three and I’m going to come onto AI to spout nonsense about Apple being doomed.



    will the world explode if you do that?
  • Reply 10 of 60
    I don't believe this tactile keyboard will make it. This is research boys.



    When someone says that we will be surprised by the way we interact with the device, I think it refers to touch gestures that we all know because of the iPhone and iPod touch but that we cannot find on any other devices.
  • Reply 11 of 60
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jfmartin67 View Post


    I don't believe this tactile keyboard will make it. This is research boys.



    When someone says that we will be surprised by the way we interact with the device, I think it refers to touch gestures that we all know because of the iPhone and iPod touch but that we cannot find on any other devices.



    This, I think. The implementation of touch on the iPhone is limited by the size of the screen. On a larger, 7"-10" device, there is the opportunity for multi-fingered swipes, tosses, flicks and taps with the kind of virtual physics that we haven't seen before.



    Tapping the side of the device to move between screens or pages? Tilt scrolling? User definable three and four fingered taps? A toss gesture to wirelessly move files to another device?



    Have no idea, but I would guess the innovation is how the thing is handled.
  • Reply 12 of 60
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple's forthcoming tablet could employ a dynamic surface that gives users tactile feedback when typing ...



    All I can say is ... I hope not.



    IMO it's an invention that addresses an illusory need.
  • Reply 13 of 60
    Voice control is a possibility as well.
  • Reply 14 of 60
    ajitmdajitmd Posts: 365member
    A lot of this smells like market manipulation. I suspect traders have accumulated the stock on the dips and now they get to release all these "news" in a low volume day. Cha-Ching!



    Sure, there may be an Apple Tablet in the works... but a lot of this is known. Now somebody is rehashing old news and pumping the stock.



    BTW, I have been long the stock but these "news" still smell manipulation.
  • Reply 15 of 60
    eehdeehd Posts: 137member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jfmartin67 View Post


    I don't believe this tactile keyboard will make it. This is research boys.



    When someone says that we will be surprised by the way we interact with the device, I think it refers to touch gestures that we all know because of the iPhone and iPod touch but that we cannot find on any other devices.



    I'd have to agree. The patent applications were filed in August of this year, which means this is just a concept and a prototype may not have even been built. I would be surprised if there was one, but if by a miraculous act it appears on the tablet, I would be pleasantly surprised...though I'm not holding my breath for it.
  • Reply 16 of 60
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eehd View Post


    I'd have to agree. The patent applications were filed in August of this year, which means this is just a concept and a prototype may not have even been built. I would be surprised if there was one, but if by a miraculous act it appears on the tablet, I would be pleasantly surprised...though I'm not holding my breath for it.



    I seem to recall that some patents were filled right before the iPhone release, but I have to agree that this patent seems too early to reach development.
  • Reply 17 of 60
    this sounds like a great solution, but i highly doubt it would come in a $600 package... perhaps $2000.
  • Reply 18 of 60
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    This, I think. The implementation of touch on the iPhone is limited by the size of the screen. On a larger, 7"-10" device, there is the opportunity for multi-fingered swipes, tosses, flicks and taps with the kind of virtual physics that we haven't seen before.



    Tapping the side of the device to move between screens or pages? Tilt scrolling? User definable three and four fingered taps? A toss gesture to wirelessly move files to another device?



    Have no idea, but I would guess the innovation is how the thing is handled.



    The problem with a virtual keyboard on a small device like a 7"-10" device is that unless you have two multi-touch displays you're taking up most of the screen real estate for the keyboard.



    If the keyboard will be there a lot, then you might as well have a MBA like device that can swivel to tablet format rather than including the expense of a second display that 70-90% of the time is just showing the keyboard.
  • Reply 19 of 60
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


    All I can say is ... I hope not.



    IMO it's an invention that addresses an illusory need.



    It's a real need if you want a usable keyboard. It's also an enabler for a lot of useful UI enhancements.
  • Reply 20 of 60
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nowayout11 View Post


    Not counting on this one. A tactile keyboard with bumps is just... weird. And over engineered (read: sloppy).



    Is it me, or is the design just begging to produce a "dead bumps" quality snafu?



    While a dynamic touch keyboard sounds great in concept, let's come back after one's been through a few years of wear & tear.
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