In March of this year we posted our first haptics related patent report for 2012 titled "Apple Looking to deliver a little More Buzz to iOS Devices." Then in May we posted another haptics report titled "Apple Reveals Wildly Intelligent Multi-Tiered Haptics System," which was a very detailed and ambitious application. Then in August we posted our third patent report covering haptics that related to a low Z profile linear vibrational motor. Today, in our fourth haptics report of the year we take a quick look at Apple's work on a linear vibrator which provides localized haptic feedback. Obviously Apple is searching for the right haptics solutions for the right devices. In fact, our morning report titled "Apple Advances Work on Virtual Keyboards for iMac & MacBook," is the ideal application for Apple's localized haptic feedback technology.
Invention: Linear Vibrator Providing Localized Haptic Feedback
Many electronic devices use linear vibrators to provide generalized haptic feedback by shaking or vibrating the device enclosure. For example, many mobile telephones may be set to a vibrate mode, so that the phone body (e.g., enclosure) vibrates when a call is received in lieu of emitting an audible ring tone. However, linear vibrators typically vibrate the entire device and/or enclosure and thus provide generalized haptic feedback.
In certain embodiments, it may be useful or desirable to localize haptic feedback. For example, certain electronic devices may use virtual or touch-based keyboards, buttons, and other input mechanisms. Without some form of localized feedback, it may be difficult for a user to detect if the input mechanism was properly or adequately touched. A generalized haptic feedback, such as vibrating the entire electronic device, may be insufficiently precise.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a cut-away view of one sample embodiment of a linear vibrator 100, taken approximately through the center of the embodiment. It should be appreciated that the linear vibrator shown in FIG. 1 is simplified for purposes of clarity.
Further, the vibrator may be configured to be activated when a user touches a particular portion of a touch-sensitive screen of the mobile phone. When the user's touch or near-touch is sensed in the appropriate area of the screen, the vibrator may be activated in a boosted mode, thereby providing localized haptic feedback directly under the area in which the touch was sensed. In this manner, the localized haptic feedback may serve to confirm the touch to the user, for example by emulating the feeling of pressing a button.
Apple's patent application 20120223824 was originally filed in Q1 2012 by the sole inventor Fletcher Rothkopf and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. For more patents regarding Haptics or Tactile Feedback, see our new Archives.
Other Apple Inventions Published Today
There were a few other mildly interesting patent applications that were published today that may pique the interest of some niche thinkers out there:
5. Headset Electronics. Apple dropped their iPhone Bluetooth headset years ago and yet it popped up again in October 2009 and again in July 2012. Considering that today's patent is the second in just a few months, you'd have to say that Apple is in search of solution to bring a wireless headset back to market.
Apple Granted a Design Patent for their Digital AV Adapter
Apple's Digital AV Adapter design was given "Registered" status in Canada which is the U.S. Equivalent of a granted patent. Registration number 142958 was issued on August 24, 2012.
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