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Apple exploring haptic touch technology for future iPhones, iPads

A recent Apple patent application shows technology exploring haptic feedback for touch-screen devices, like the iPhone and iPad, which would allow users to "feel" buttons on the display.


Many of the last remaining BlackBerry holdouts continue to clamor about the advantages of a physical keyboard, citing the difficulty of using a touch-screen device if its user cannot see the display. According to one of Apple's latest patent applications, that argument may soon become moot.

The "Touch-based User Interface with Haptic Feedback" patent application, discovered by AppleInsider, highlights the use of actuators and sensors on an iPad's or iPhone's display that would allow a user to effectively feel buttons and other controls.


Apple's take on haptic technology places piezoelectric actuators under the display, which allows for localized feedback when touched. Because the sensation is localized (as opposed to vibrating the whole device as other haptic solutions do) users would be able to feel individual buttons and understand their relative positions on the display.

To allow the haptic layer to sense not only placement, but pressure as well, the display would have to have some minimal flexibility. The combination of haptic feedback and force-sensing actuators could allow Apple to produce a completely new set of touch-screen gestures to include in iOS devices.

Besides the obvious user conveniences of being able to feel buttons and controls being used on a touchscreen device, Apple's haptic feedback patent could serve to better its already stellar Universal Access functionality, allowing users with disabilities to more easily use iPads and iPhones.

Is haptic feedback a must-have feature for future iPads and iPhones? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!