Apple investigating advanced 3D Touch technology with integrated feedback

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2017
Apple is continuing work on advanced haptic feedback technologies, with the latest development outlined in a patent application describing methods of dynamically attracting or repelling a cover glass depending on user input.


Source: USPTO


Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple's application for a "Dynamically stabilized magnetic array" contains claims that detail a system that relies on embedded electromagnets to sense, quantify and respond to user touch.

In some embodiments, magnetic element arrays are disposed on display and protective layers -- a screen and its cover glass -- within a flexible display assembly. When a user presses down on the cover glass, or otherwise applies force to the stack, a magnetic circuit is formed between the two elements.

When the layers move closer to each other, and once a circuit forms, the magnetic elements can generate attractive or repulsive forces, thus enabling tactile feedback. Firmware driving the system controls the amount of current supplied to the electromagnet system, allowing variation in haptic response.

Alternatively, a tactile response might be generated when a user touches an onscreen input element like a key on a virtual keyboard.

The system might also be applied to detect and respond to changes in the strength of the magnetic circuit caused by a depression of the display layer. If the vacillation exceeds a threshold value, current is supplied to one electromagnet element, resulting in a tactile response.

In broad terms, the filing describes a substitute feedback mechanism for current Taptic Engine technology. Apple's existing haptic feedback solution relies on a patented actuator module capable of accurately reproducing a variety of sensations, from taps to vibrations.

Today's filing is a continuation of Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,696,752, which covers a slew of device features powered by electromagnetic reactions.



For example, certain embodiments in the granted IP detail methods of detecting and temporarily joining two separate devices together, such as an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. The same technology can be used to attach protective covers and even other iPads.

Other embodiments describe a technique by which magnets embedded in a protective case might be used to prevent damage during drop events. When an accelerometer, gyroscope or other sensor -- or the magnetic element itself -- detects rapid motion, a device might energize onboard electromagnets to draw an attached case toward one of its sides or corners. This action forms a crush zone that reduces the rate at which force is imparted onto the device.

Finally, the patent covers methods of creating raised formations on a flexible display to depict keys or other protrusions that correspond with a device's graphical interface. These buttons can be configured to respond to user interactions, for example providing a "clicky" feel during keyboard key presses. Apple notes the technology is not necessarily restricted to displays, and might also be applied to input devices like keyboards and trackpads.

Apple's patent application for electromagnetic tactile response was first filed for in June and credits James A. Stryker as its inventor.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,057moderator
    Seems ideal for creating the next generation Touch Bar for the Mac and even creating an entire virtual keyboard for the Mac, that can change the mapping of keys, and key layouts, to create a universal keyboard that can be dynamically localized to each market/language, and to create a keyboard that doesn’t have mechanical components, at least not in the traditional sense.  The universal MacBook Pro may be on its way, same unit sold in Japan, China, et al as in western countries.  With a flexible display haptic keyboard.  Sweet.
    edited October 2017 watto_cobramizhou
  • Reply 2 of 7
    I can see the use of this on a mobile device obviously, but using this tech for a keyboard on a MacBook Pro is not a good fit, IMO. People are VERY particular when it comes to keyboard feel. We saw this with the first gen MacBook. Users want that "clicky" feel. This tech looks like it may have the capability, but not the usability to replace a traditional keyboard experience.
    AvieshekjSnively
  • Reply 3 of 7
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Seems ideal for creating the next generation Touch Bar for the Mac and even creating an entire virtual keyboard for the Mac, that can change the mapping of keys, and key layouts, to create a universal keyboard that can be dynamically localized to each market/language, and to create a keyboard that doesn’t have mechanical components, at least not in the traditional sense.  The universal MacBook Pro may be on its way, same unit sold in Japan, China, et al as in western countries.  With a flexible display haptic keyboard.  Sweet.
    I hope so. I remember that awesome e-ink keyboard that Apple was rumored to use.  
    Avieshek
  • Reply 4 of 7
    OMG this must the preludium to eradicate the physical keyboard at all.
    Apple seems to underestimate the implications of an increasingly difficult to produce screen.
    3DTouch by itself appeared to be nonscalable technology that will never be applied to iPads.
    So that better be implemented by detecting a long touch on a regular screen (as I advised 273 times before)  in order to make it scalable  across iOS.
    There is no need for on-screen taptic response and everybody was comfortable with the original small haptic engine that did allow for the headphone jack.
    So please, stop this all.  
    Are you listening Apple (or hopefully just patenting your butts off again without the intention of ever developing it further...)
    edited October 2017
  • Reply 5 of 7
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Bacillus3 said:
    OMG this must the preludium to eradicate the physical keyboard at all.
    Apple seems to underestimate the implications of an increasingly difficult to produce screen.
    3DTouch by itself appeared to be nonscalable technology that will never be applied to iPads.
    So that better be implemented by detecting a long touch on a regular screen (as I advised 273 times before)  in order to make it scalable  across iOS.
    There is no need for on-screen taptic response and everybody was comfortable with the original small haptic engine that did allow for the headphone jack.
    So please, stop this all.  
    Are you listening Apple (or hopefully just patenting your butts off again without the intention of ever developing it further...)
    Right.... Long touch, X time to get a response versus 30 response in the same time (and multiple levels of response according to pressure), well it's exactly the same..;. And yeah, this is sarcasm.

    You're talking about yourself up as "everyone"... Well, you're not everyone, it's just your personal POV based on a very flimsy argument.
    Another person with his finger on the pulse of society... Guess Apple should just hire you then; how could they survive without this input!

    Solimike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 7
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 269member
    This would be really nice for CAD drawing with the Apple pencil. Especially when joining on intersecting lines.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 7
    anomeanome Posts: 1,272member

    I've been saying Apple were working on this all along. A glass keyboard that provides haptic feedback that fools you into thinking you're touching physical keys.

    I mean, the people who don't like the MacBook keyboard are probably really going to hate this, but I do think it's where they're going.

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