Date: Thursday, December 24th, 2009, 10:55
Ok, this could be really interesting.
Recently, Apple filed for a patent on a touch-surface keyboard with tactile feedback. Per AppleInsider, a problem with typing on touchscreens is that users must typically look at the keys to know what is being pressed; by contrast, most physical keyboards allow people to gauge where their fingers are through bumps and ridges. Apple’s solution would pop up an “articulating frame” whenever typing is engaged, and move it out of the way when it is not.
Such a frame could be based around ridges or concave depressions, much as on a normal keyboard, or alternately on dedicated feedback mechanisms. Another proposed option is a non-articulating frame, which would provide more resistance the further a finger moves away from a key center. Activation of the frame could be triggered by placing fingers in the right place, or simply engaging in typing-like activity. A frame could be lowered when taps or slides are detected.
The technology could conceivably be used in Apple’s long-awaited tablet and a former Apple employee has suggested will surprise people in how they can interact with it. The patent filing is also not the first of its kind from the company, as a similar one was submitted as far back as 2007.