Apple wins a Patent for a new Notifications System based on Delivering Distinct Hardware-Centric Tactile Sensations
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 66 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's invention that relates to delivering a new kind of notifications system that promises to eliminate Home Screen texts and/or annoying audio cues. Apple introduces us to "Tactile Notifications for electronic devices."
In Apple's patent background they note that many electronic devices have an ability to notify a user of a particular item of interest. For example, an electronic device, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch may notify a user of an incoming text, phone call, or electronic mail. Conventional notifications are temporary alarms or signals, such as an audio or vibration alarm, or temporary displays of a message, such as a text message.
If the user does not respond to the text message, the text message will disappear. Such conventional alerting schemes can be distracting to the user or to parties adjacent the user.
In some cases, conventional notifications may be so distracting that a user turns off the notification capability, resulting in missed receipt of urgent or critical notifications.
Also, conventional notifications may be forgotten if not acknowledged during the temporary notification lifetime, as the notification frequently will get stored among a wealth of earlier notifications and data.
Apple's solution is to produce a sustained notification on a tactile notification region of a device, like an iPhone, in accordance with the notification event, and the sustained notification is tactilely perceptible.
A good example is shown below in patent FIG. 9B where the backside of an iPhone will physically change it's texture so that if the user is holding their iPhone, they'll actually feel the change occurring and by the texture type, the user will know that they have an email to address or that your significant other is trying to call you, without a message or an alarm going off.
Apple further describes it this way: "The physical implementation of the tactile outputs may be performed in any of several ways. For example, an actuator, such as an electromechanical actuator, may be positioned inwards from an exterior surface of an electronic device, such that, with actuation, activation and/or motion of a tactile feature occurs.
For example, actuation of the actuator may cause a deformation of a portion of the exterior surface. The actuator may extend toward the exterior surface so as to deform the exterior surface and create any of several tactile features, such as a protrusion.
Alternatively, the actuator may retract the exterior surface so as create an indentation. Additionally, or alternatively, the actuator may cause a tactile feature to move, including rotation, precession, tilting, or other motion.
Apple envisions this tactile notification region could be built into most future devices such as MacBooks, AirPods Pro, a student's backpack, an iPhone, iPad, HMD, smartglasses, keyboards and more and the tactile notification could be a texture, a change in the shape of a device cover or density of the device.
In another example, an Apple Watch user could receive a tactile notification by having a future smartband noticeably and automatically tighten on their wrist.
If anything, it's an unconventional idea that likely has to be experienced before making judgement like "it sounds creepy." What's your take on this possible new notifications option. Send in your comments on our Twitter site.
To learn more about this possible future feature, check out Apple's granted patent 10,762,752 which was published today by the U.S. Patent Office and originally filed back in Q2 2018.