An Apple smart glove could make typing on an iPad screen easier and more comfortable

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 13
Typing on an iPad, iPhone, or other low-travel surface like a MacBook Pro keyboard could be made easier and more comfortable, with Apple suggesting that smart gloves could squeeze the finger slightly to change the sensation.




Typing on a touchscreen has become a common fixture of modern-day computing. While everyone is used to tapping away at a solid flat surface, the tactile benefits of using a normal keyboard with mechanical keys is clearly missing from the software-based keyboards.

A flat surface does not provide any gradual resistance to a finger press, unlike typing on a keyboard. Apple believes that, due to the abrupt halting of fingers on contact with a display surface could lead to "jarring and fatiguing" finger impacts, which makes it uncomfortable to type on a tablet or phone display for long periods of time.

A newly-granted patent from Apple, seeks to solve the problem by taking advantage of human anatomy. Named "Systems for modifying finger sensations during finger press input events," Apple suggests softening the impact of tapping a display by increasing the cushioning effect provided by a user's finger pads.

Wearing a device on each finger, shaped to cover the fingernail and to go down the left and right sides of the finger while leaving the fingertip exposed, the system effectively consists of actuators that change the shape of the device, making them narrower and wider in width. The aim is to lightly squeeze the sides of the finger to deform it, pushing the finger pad further out, which in turn softens the impact with the screen.

This extra cushioning should in theory make it easier to type for longer periods, as well as offering a form of haptic feedback to the user when actively typing.

Illustration showing how squeezing the finger can extend the finger pad
Illustration showing how squeezing the finger can extend the finger pad


Rather than constantly squeezing the fingers and making it uncomfortable to wear, the system would only engage the squeezing action when it is in close proximity to an appropriate surface, namely a device's display. As well as bracing for impact, the sensation would also alert the user that they are close to making contact with an interactive surface.

Apple also suggests the devices could provide some pushback, in a similar way to how a key springs against a finger on a keyboard, which could be accomplished by the use of magnetic forces. It is even suggested that the force could be attractive, tugging a user's fingers towards appropriate areas to type

An image illustrating how the actuators could move and be positioned
An image illustrating how the actuators could move and be positioned


Other elements of the patent application also cover the use of actuators on the input surface to create "dynamically adjustable surface heigh variations," namely a representation of a keyboard.

Apple is regularly granted numerous patents, but while they do indicate areas of interest for the company, it is far from guaranteed that the ideas will appear in a consumer device in the future.

This is not the only time Apple has considered the use of finger-based devices to change the way users interact with devices. One patent application from 2019 suggested rings on fingertips or gloves containing "sensors and haptics" that could provide feedback in AR and VR applications, such as feigning the sensation of picking up a virtual object or pressing a non-existent button.

Another patent for "Fabric-based devices with force sensing" explains how gloves or similar items could be used to sense force, using sensors embedded in the fabric. While it could also apply to other items, such as headbands and soft furnishings, the patent does go out of its way to suggest how sensors could be set up in a glove.

Such a system could also help with another often-surfacing idea of Apple's: replacing the keyboard of a MacBook with a solid glass panel as a rigid keyboard. While Apple has been looking for ways to feign a key actuation in a solid glass sheet, transferring the sensation to fingertip-altering accessories would eliminate the need to add such mechanisms to the keyboard, which could lead to a secondary display-based keyboard or a MacBook with an even thinner profile.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Or.. just fix the keyboards to provide better tactile feedback
    /s

    Also, accept the fact that people who type a lot on an iPad are going to add a better keyboard like the one from Brydge
    edited February 2019
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Sure, rather integrate a comfortable keyboard, we can use bionic gloves instead - kinda like the dongle concept. 

    To be honest, I find the keyboard cover for the 10.5" iPad Pro absolutely fantastic (as well as the first generation 12.9" iPad Pro) - the ease and speed is about halfway between a butterfly / iPhone keyboard and a real keyboard - and IMO it's closer to the real keyboard than the butterfly/iPhone, nearly completely usable.  And it takes up less space in your backpack than a pair of gloves.
    cornchipMrBunside
  • Reply 3 of 15
    ariearie Posts: 27member
    Bs. 
    caladanian
  • Reply 4 of 15
    larryalarrya Posts: 591member
    Ha ha next we’ll get a patent application for a stylus. I know “Jobs wouldn’t do this” is overused, but Jobs would never do this. 
  • Reply 5 of 15
    Just fix that screen so it is more sensitive. LG devices do not seem to have this problem without special gloves or changing people's hands. All Apple devices are designed for young people with typically wet hands. No help for drier hands with older generation. Some need to push this screen really hard so it understands tha it needs to act.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 6 of 15
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 1,249member
    larrya said:
    Ha ha next we’ll get a patent application for a stylus. I know “Jobs wouldn’t do this” is overused, but Jobs would never do this. 
    Yes his “sandpaper” jibe just took another twist...
  • Reply 7 of 15
    I’m not happy with the size of my field of vision, but rather than turning my head, I’m going to cut out my eyeball and mount it on the top of my head.

    Sure, that works.  It’s also incredibly stupid...
  • Reply 8 of 15
    This would be amazing for turning any flat surface in to a tablet, keyboard, or computer with AR glasses.  
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Minority report anybody?

    however having some form of hand wearable for a future version of AR glasses that give haptic feedback would make a lot more sense. 

    This seems to me another small piece of a larger apple puzzle. 




  • Reply 10 of 15
    jdiamond said:
    Sure, rather integrate a comfortable keyboard, we can use bionic gloves instead - kinda like the dongle concept. 

    To be honest, I find the keyboard cover for the 10.5" iPad Pro absolutely fantastic (as well as the first generation 12.9" iPad Pro) - the ease and speed is about halfway between a butterfly / iPhone keyboard and a real keyboard - and IMO it's closer to the real keyboard than the butterfly/iPhone, nearly completely usable.  And it takes up less space in your backpack than a pair of gloves.
    I think the true reason for this is when you don't have a keyboard or display at all with AR devices.  If the resolution is good enough, there is no point in having a flat panel keyboard with gloves when you can just go full AR.  When AR is mainstream we will basically have a portable computer with a 100" screen that automatically changes the keyboard in to a tablet when more ideal.  I've wondered if initial AR systems might need a touch slate (like an oversized trackpad) for precise interaction though.  Hand position tracking is hard.  Although I'd be happy with a traditional keyboard and trackpad connected to an AR display.
    edited February 2019
  • Reply 11 of 15
    larrya said:
    Ha ha next we’ll get a patent application for a stylus. I know “Jobs wouldn’t do this” is overused, but Jobs would never do this. 
    Don’t we already have a stylus?
  • Reply 12 of 15
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,505member
    If this were to come true, I hope they'd have  'Find My' support built in!
    edited September 13
  • Reply 13 of 15
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Apple appears to be taking prompts from late 80s/early 90s Nintendo.  Apple VR is their Virtual Boy, and this is their Power Glove.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    Yes and add smart glasses for monitors if they are flawed. Voice synthesizer if electronics cannot understand your commands. Teach people to accommodate electronics has always been success. that is what Steve Jobs kept promoting? I do not think so.
    williamlondon
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