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Rumor: Apple to add tactile feedback to iPhone

Apple insider says the company is in talks with Immersion to license its haptic technology for use in the iPhone, according to a report.

The current iPhone does not give sensory feedback when a person presses keys on its touchscreen. CNET Networks

An anonymous Apple employee says company executives are in talks with Immersion to license its haptic technology for use in the iPhone, according to a report at

Haptic technology gives people sensory feedback--in the form of a vibration or pressure--when they use a touchscreen. Essentially, it makes touching a key on a touchscreen more akin to pressing a real button. Right now, the iPhone interface does not have that kind of interactivity, which can make using the touchscreen more challenging because there is no sensory indication that a key has been touched and the phone has registered it.

In separate news, Immersion on Thursday named Clent Richardson its new president and CEO. According to Immersion's press release, Richardson has previously held prominent positions at TiVo, Nortel, T-Mobile, and a little company called Apple. From that release:

Previously, at Apple, he reported to the co-founder and CEO as vice president of worldwide developer relations and worldwide solutions marketing and built and led a global team that established and strengthened developer and customer relationships around the world. During his more than five years with Apple, Richardson was also senior manager of evangelism, responsible for building and leading a worldwide team that managed global strategic relationships with Adobe, AOL, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Sun, and other industry leaders for all Apple divisions.

So it wouldn't be too surprising if it turns out Richardson is getting back in touch with old friends and forming ties between Apple and his new company.

Immersion's VibeTonz feedback technology is already in use in more than 10 million mobile phones, including the LG Voyager VX10000 and Samsung SCH-A930, according to the company. And its medical division creates tactile feedback technology for virtual surgery systems that help train surgeons.