Headphone haptics maker sues Apple over modern Taptic Engine

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 26
Taction Technology, which developed an enhanced haptic feedback system that later made its way into consumer headphones, is suing Apple for allegedly infringing on two owned patents with its Taptic Engine.

Taptic Engine
Apple's Taptic Engine from a 2020 iPhone SE.


Introduced with Apple Watch in 2014, Apple's Taptic Engine is a specialized haptic feedback system that eschews traditional vibratory motors in favor of a linear resonant actuator capable of reproducing complex oscillation input signals and, importantly, dampening movement. This control over the moving mass within the module translates into unique tactile experiences ranging from buzzing and light tapping to simulating a heart beat.

Following a debut on Apple Watch, the Taptic Engine was integrated into iPhone, where it now plays an integral role in the iOS user interface. Users feel haptic vibrations as confirmation of UI instances, replacement for audio cues, feedback in games and more.

According to Taction's lawsuit, Apple initially used coil springs to provide controlled resistance to Taptic's moving mass. A central locating rod was deployed to locate said mass during operation, a necessity for outputting precise haptics. More recent Taptic Engine designs, however, use flexures to both locate the mass and provide the requisite controlled resistance. These architectures also rely on magnetic ferrofluid in violation of Taction's intellectual property, namely U.S. Patent Nos. 10,659,885 and 10,820,117.

Developed by Dr. Silmon James Biggs, the patents are the result of years of work in the field of haptic technology. While researching at the MIT Touch Lab, Biggs "focused on the effect of different types of vibrations on human skin, including the differences between axial vibrations (perpendicular to the skin) and shear vibrations (parallel to the skin)," the suit reads. As described in the '885 and '117 patents, the inventor developed an improved haptic system, later branded the Taction Transporter, that features "flexures, coils, magnets, and a magnetic ferrofluid to damp undesired vibrations while also allowing the actuator to be operated efficiently."

Taction, through a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, went on to market the now defunct Kannon headphone, which incorporated both traditional speaker drivers and Taction Transporters for mimicking bass vibrations. The audio/haptic technology was licensed by Corsair and is incorporated into the company's HS60 Haptic Stereo Gaming Headset.

In its suit, Taction claims Apple procured and reverse engineered two Kannon headsets. Supporting evidence of the supposed action appears to be order and shipping receipts.

The lawsuit claims Taptic Engine designs have infringed on Taction IP since 2016. Further, Apple's Core Haptics library, which enables third-party use of the haptic technology, is also claimed to violate the patents-in-suit as it allows for precise synchronization of haptic sensations to audio tracks.

Taction seeks damages and court fees in its suit.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    What is the headline picture connected to this article?  Some type of haptic module?  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    uraharaurahara Posts: 529member
    What is the headline picture connected to this article?  Some type of haptic module?  
    Yeah, I have just googled haptic engine inside for your convenience. 
  • Reply 3 of 7
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,963member
    You know this sounds like it might actually be legit.
  • Reply 4 of 7
    neilmneilm Posts: 883member
    Another day, another IP lawsuit. Yawn...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    larryjwlarryjw Posts: 779member
    • Patent number: 10659885
      Abstract: A vibration module for applying vibrational tractions to a wearer's skin is presented. Use of the vibration module in headphones is illustrated for providing tactile sensations of low frequency for music, for massage, and for electrical recording and stimulation of the wearer. Damped, planar, electromagnetically-actuated vibration modules of the moving magnet type are presented in theory and reduced to practice, and shown to provide a substantially uniform frequency response over the range 40-200 Hz with a minimum of unwanted audio.
      Type: Grant
      Filed: October 3, 2019
      Date of Patent: May 19, 2020
      Assignee: Taction Technology, Inc.
      Inventor: Silmon James Biggs

    • The above is a summary of the main patent in question. Filing date as you can see is Oct 3, 2019. Apple has been incorporating haptic feedback for many years before this. It does seem to appear Apple's inventions predates Biggs patent. 
    llama
  • Reply 6 of 7
    larryjw said:
    • Patent number: 10659885
      Abstract: A vibration module for applying vibrational tractions to a wearer's skin is presented. Use of the vibration module in headphones is illustrated for providing tactile sensations of low frequency for music, for massage, and for electrical recording and stimulation of the wearer. Damped, planar, electromagnetically-actuated vibration modules of the moving magnet type are presented in theory and reduced to practice, and shown to provide a substantially uniform frequency response over the range 40-200 Hz with a minimum of unwanted audio.
      Type: Grant
      Filed: October 3, 2019
      Date of Patent: May 19, 2020
      Assignee: Taction Technology, Inc.
      Inventor: Silmon James Biggs

    • The above is a summary of the main patent in question. Filing date as you can see is Oct 3, 2019. Apple has been incorporating haptic feedback for many years before this. It does seem to appear Apple's inventions predates Biggs patent. 
    The critical point lies within the use of ferrofluid to overcome the drawbacks of apples solution
  • Reply 7 of 7
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 740member
    larryjw said:
    • Patent number: 10659885
      Abstract: A vibration module for applying vibrational tractions to a wearer's skin is presented. Use of the vibration module in headphones is illustrated for providing tactile sensations of low frequency for music, for massage, and for electrical recording and stimulation of the wearer. Damped, planar, electromagnetically-actuated vibration modules of the moving magnet type are presented in theory and reduced to practice, and shown to provide a substantially uniform frequency response over the range 40-200 Hz with a minimum of unwanted audio.
      Type: Grant
      Filed: October 3, 2019
      Date of Patent: May 19, 2020
      Assignee: Taction Technology, Inc.
      Inventor: Silmon James Biggs

    • The above is a summary of the main patent in question. Filing date as you can see is Oct 3, 2019. Apple has been incorporating haptic feedback for many years before this. It does seem to appear Apple's inventions predates Biggs patent. 
    You need to look at the related documents - there is one by Mr Biggs dated from 2014.
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