Will the iPad 3's display let you 'feel' what's on-screen?

A new report claims Apple's iPad 3 might come with haptic technology from Senseg that would let users feel hard edges, smooth textures, and much more.

Will Senseg's "feel" technology coming to the iPad 3?
Will Senseg's "feel" technology coming to the iPad 3? Apple

When you scroll around the iPad 2 with your finger, all you feel is a screen. But what if you had the chance to actually feel all the things you're seeing?

According to U.K. tech blog Pocket-lint, you might just have that chance with the new iPad 3. The blog reported today that it spoke with a company spokesman at haptic-feedback firm Senseg, who said that the firm "won't be making any statements until after Apple's announcement." It wasn't necessarily a smoking gun, but Pocket-lint believes that it was enough to suggest Senseg's technology will be coming to the iPad 3.

If you haven't heard of Senseg, it's largely because the Finland-based company's technology has been in serious development over the last several years. Rather than provide the standard "buzzing" you'll find in most haptic technologies, Senseg's offering lets you feel hard edges, smooth textures, and much more.

"Senseg turns touch screens into Feel Screens," the company writes on its Web site. "With Senseg touch screens come alive with textures, contours and edges that users can feel. Using Senseg technology, makers of tablet computers, smart phones, and any touch interface device can deliver revolutionary user experiences with high fidelity tactile sensations."

CNET's Rafe Needleman had the chance to take Senseg's technology for a spin back in November . Senseg's Dave Rice told Needleman that the technology uses an electrostatic field to "modulate friction" and create the effect. "There is no mechanical movement at all," Rice told Needleman.

There is one major weakness in Pocket-lint's claims that Senseg's technology might be coming to the iPad 3: timing. Rice told Needleman that Senseg hopes to get a product running its technology on store shelves towards the end of 2012, but that "could extend to 24 months." In other words, at that time, Senseg wasn't planning to have its technology ready right now.

Still, things change rapidly in the technology world, and if Apple became involved with Senseg, there is a chance it was able to accelerate that rollout.

In addition to Pocket-lint's discovery, Trusted Reviews sat down with Senseg last June to talk about its technology. The company's senior vice president Ville Makinen told the blog that it wouldn't offer its technology on Nokia products first, despite both companies having headquarters there.

"We are currently working with a certain tablet maker based in Cupertino," he told Trusted Reviews.

Neither Apple nor Senseg immediately responded to CNET's request for comment on the Pocket-lint report.

 

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