Apple has won a Patent for a Reluctance Haptic Engine that could allow a future MacBook Trackpad to Greatly Expand
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a reluctance actuator configured to provide a haptic output for an electronic device. One such application would be to greatly expand a future MacBook trackpad.
Apple's granted patent relates to an electronic device having a reluctance haptic engine configured to provide haptic output to a user of the device. In various embodiments, the reluctance haptic engine includes a core and an attractor. The core and/or the attractor may be coupled to an input structure, such as a button cap, trackpad cover, touchscreen cover, or the like. In an unactuated configuration, flexible support members maintain a gap between the core and the attractor. An electrical current may be applied to one or more conduction loops of the core to actuate the reluctance haptic engine and provide a haptic output by moving the input structure.
The electrical current may cause a magnetic flux resulting in a reluctance force that pulls the attractor and the core together and causes the input structure to move (e.g., translate, rotate, oscillate, vibrate, or deform) to produce a haptic output. In an actuated configuration, a biasing force applied by the flexible support members to maintain the gap may be overcome by the reluctance force, and the gap between the core and the attractor is reduced or closed.
Apple's patent FIG. 3A below illustrates an example MacBook (#320) that may incorporate a reluctance haptic engine with flexible support members; FIG. 3B illustrates an exploded view of a portion of the electronic device 320, showing reluctance haptic engines #300 positioned beneath the trackpad #340a.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 10,976,824