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Apple Researches a New Haptic Option & More

1. Apple Researches a New Haptic Option & More
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.


2. Linear Vibrator Providing Localized Haptic Feedback

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:


1. Composite Enclosure

2. Compact Fan Assembly with Thrust Bearing (see new MacBook Pro Fan and iFixit

3. Display Snooping

4. Object Placeholders in Electronic Documents

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.


3. Other Patent Applications Published today

 5. iFixit Macbook Pro 15 inch Retina Display Teardown - New Fan


Apple Granted a Design Patent for their Digital AV Adapter


4. Apple is Granted a Design Patent in Canada 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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T5 Steve Jobs, Think Different Forevermore - June 2012





I genuinely like the intelligent haptics that Apple are working on. this seems like the first interesting patent from Apple I've seen in a while. Having contoured display can lead the way for fully malleable displays once flexible OLED screens arrive. Who knows, the next magic mouse could not only have a screen on it, but also proper haptic force feedback.

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