Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that covers a system and methods for providing a type of haptic output for an electronic device such as an Apple Watch or iPhone. The type of haptic output is based on a determined orientation, position, and/or operating environment of the electronic device. Specifically, the electronic device may receive input from one or more sensors associated with an electronic device. The input from the one or more sensors is analyzed to determine a current orientation, position and/or operating environment of the electronic device. Once the orientation, position and/or operating environment of the electronic device is determined, a type of haptic output is selected and provided by the electronic device.
An Apple Watch webpage mirrors this patent in describing notifications that you could feel.
Apple notes in their filing that "if the electronic device includes an accelerometer and microphone, the electronic device may detect that it is in a classroom or meeting setting by the sensors reporting no movement from the accelerometer and/or a relatively low ambient noise level from the microphone. Upon detecting that it is operating in this environment, the electronic device may adjust the type of vibrations or pulses output by a haptic actuator.
In addition, the haptic actuator may be configured to output a test pulse or vibration. In response, the microphone may sense or otherwise analyze an amount of noise caused by the vibration or pulse (e.g., noise caused by the electronic device vibrating on a hard surface) and adjust the type of haptic output provided."
In another embodiment, if the vibration or pulse is too loud, a visual notification may be output by the electronic device. For example, a screen or light source of the electronic device may flash or strobe in order to gain the attention of the user.
For more details, see Apple's patent application 20150331508 which was originally filed in Q2 2014.
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