updated 09:40 am EDT, Thu June 24, 2010
Apple multi haptics would localize across screen
In sync with the iPhone 4 launch, Apple has seen a new patent application filing published that suggests it want more advanced haptic feedback for future iPhones and Macs. The approach would put a series of haptic vibrators around the device cued up to what Apple calls "haptic profiles;" when the user would make a multi-touch gesture, the phone would trigger the vibrators in sync with both the location of the touch and its movement across the surface. It could also respond to the amount of force on the screen and combine two or more vibrators to produce effects at more specific locations.
The described technology would primarily apply to touchscreen devices and would respond both to deliberate and incidental gestures, such as the "rubber band" effect when reaching the end of a scrolling list. However, Apple noted it could also apply to trackpads and other purely input-based devices.
Filed in April 2009, the patent won't necessarily result in the feature reaching iPhones, iPods or other devices in the near future, but it reflects a continued level of development of haptics at Apple; it has already had earlier patents relating to feedback that indicates it's at least seriously considering the addition at some stage.