Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to systems and methods for providing haptic realignment cues to a user interacting with virtual keys of a graphical user interface presented by a touch-input display of an electronic device.
As more dual display notebooks come to market with one of the displays being used as a virtual keyboard, the goal is to make these virtual keyboards more natural to the touch instead of users banging on solid glass.
Some OEMs like Lenovo are using a mixture of advanced haptics, different visual and audio effects to make the experience of virtual typing resemble a real keyboard. The Windows Central video below reviews the virtual keyboard and you could see for yourself where this trend may be going.
Virtual keyboards can offer users around the world different keyboards with their native languages being accented. The keyboards could be set to various sizes to accommodate various hand sizes. And lastly, the keyboard can disappear altogether to provide different user interfaces for controlling music, playing games or become an stylus pad for artists. .
Apple of late has been coming at the problem of working with solid virtual keyboard on display's short comings with various possible solutions. One of the solutions presented in a late January report discussing the use of advanced deformable glass that could provide individual raised keys and provide advanced haptics to provide that realistic keyboard experience.
Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Invents Finger-Mounted Devices to make Typing on a Future MacBook Virtual Keyboard feel Natural."
In today's patent report we cover yet another angle of Apple's that covers finger misalignment on virtual keyboards. It's natural for fingers to eventually drift out of position on a virtual keyboard and Apple has come up with possible solutions for that in patent application 20190064997 titled "Haptic Realignment cues for Touch-Input Displays.
Apple's invention provides notification systems configured to generate haptic outputs, sounds, and visual effects that provide cues (e.g., alignment cues, realignment cues, centering cues, and so on) to a user to adjust or maintain that user's finger positioning when providing touch and/or force input to a particular virtual key--or other virtual input region--of a virtual keyboard shown on a graphical user interface presented or rendered by a (typically planar) touch-sensitive display of an electronic device.
In particular, in many embodiments, the notification system includes a haptic output subsystem configured to generate a global, semi-local, or local haptic output by varying one or more output characteristics of one or more global, semi-local, or local haptic output elements (e.g., vibrating elements, vertical or horizontal displacement elements, acoustic elements, electrostatic elements, and so on).
The haptic output generated by the haptic output subsystem can be varied based on substantially real-time touch and/or force input to the touch-sensitive display of the electronic device. For example, the haptic output generated by the haptic output subsystem can be varied based on a location of a touch input, a magnitude of a force input, an acceleration of a gesture input, and so on. In these examples, the haptic output generated by the haptic output subsystem is configured to provide a haptic cue to the user to either maintain the user's finger positioning or, in the alternative, to adjust the user's finger positioning with respect to a particular virtual key of the virtual keyboard.
In further embodiments, more than one haptic output can be provided by the haptic output subsystem to cue the user to adjust the user's finger positioning relative to a particular virtual key. For example, the notification system can instruct the haptic output subsystem to generate haptic outputs with properties (e.g., amplitude, frequency, location, and so on) proportional or otherwise related to a distance between the user's finger and a central region of the key.
For example, if the user presses a virtual key in the center of that key, a first haptic output can be provided. As the user's finger drifts toward a boundary of the virtual key, eventually overlapping the boundary, a magnitude of the first haptic output can be changed, cuing the user to re-center the drifting finger. Once the user's finger drifts to overlap the boundary of the virtual key, a second haptic output can be provided, cuing the user to re-align the drifting finger.
Examples of Visual Realignment Cues
Apple's patent FIG. 7A presented above depicts a virtual keyboard #700a (that may be presented by a graphical user interface) including multiple rows of virtual keys. In this example, a visual realignment cue #702 is provided by modifying a position of a virtual key that can be selected by a user.
Apple's patent FIG. 7B depicts a virtual keyboard which provides a visual realignment cue #704 in which a virtual key's size and positioning are modified.
Apple's patent FIG. 7C depicts a virtual keyboard which provides a visual realignment cue #706 in which a virtual key's shape and positioning are modified.
Apple's patent FIG. 7D depicts a virtual keyboard which provides a visual realignment animation #708 in which a virtual key's position is highlighted by a perimeter animation.
Apple's patent FIG. 7E depicts a virtual keyboard which provides a visual realignment cue #710 in which a virtual key's coloring or patterning are modified.
Apple's patent FIG. 7F depicts a virtual keyboard which provides visual realignment cues #712, #714, and #716 in which a user's past finger positions are highlighted with fading after-images.
The example embodiments depicted in FIGS. 7A-7F are merely examples; it is appreciated that any number of visual effects can be provided in conjunction with or in place of audio cues and/or haptic cues described herein. Further, it is appreciated that any number of suitable visual cues apart from these specific examples provided above are possible including, but not limited to: virtual key animations; virtual key shape, size, color, design, font, position, or rotation changes; after image animations; and so on.
Apple's patent application was originally filed back in Qx xx. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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