The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 62 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's invention that allows a touchpad or touch surface to simulate textures and temperatures such as cool metal or hot cement. In 2012 Apple introduced a wildly intelligent multi-tiered haptics system for OLED displays and today's granted invention builds on that foundation. There was buzz about Apple introducing an iPad that would offer a Senseg-like surface back in 2012 that never panned out. Whether simulated touch is still a consideration for future touch devices is unknown at this time.
Granted Patent: Touch Surface for Simulating Materials
Apple's newly granted patent generally relates to systems and methods for simulating materials using touch surfaces. A touch device may include at least one touch surface, at least one actuator or at least one temperature control device, and at least one control unit. The control unit may control the actuator or the temperature control device to cause at least a portion of the touch surface to simulate a material.
Such control may include utilizing the actuator to move vertically and/or horizontally to vibrate at least a portion of the touch surface. Such vibrations may simulate the tactile sensation of texture. Rougher surfaces may be simulated by producing stronger vibrations than those produces to simulate smoother surfaces.
In some cases, the vibrations may be varied over time, such as in response to one or more touches detected using one or more touch sensors (such as position sensors, force sensors, capacitive sensors, and/or other sensors capable of detecting one or more characteristics of a touch). For example, the vibrations may be varied over time in response to detection of a touch moving across the touch surface in order to simulate the grain of a wood surface.
Such control may also include utilizing the temperature control device to control the temperature of at least a portion of the touch surface. Such a temperature control device may include at least one Peltier device. The temperature control may simulate the tactile sensation of the thermal conductivity of a material. For example, a glass surface may be controlled to have the temperature of a relatively cooler metal material and/or a relatively warmer wood material. In some cases, the temperature control may be performed utilizing data from one or more temperature sensors that detect a temperature of the touch surface. In such cases, the temperature control device may be adjusted based on the data to adjust the temperature of the touch surface.
In some implementations, the touch surface may include a layer of diamond material. The diamond material may be a layer of chemical vapor deposited diamond, such as a layer of carbon vapor deposited diamond. Such a layer of diamond may provide extremely high thermal conductivity (which may exceed that of copper by approximately a factor of five), extreme mechanical hardness (providing exceptional wear resistance), and/or optical broadband optical transparency (being transparent from approximately ultraviolet to far infrared).
For more details you could check out our original coverage of this invention a year ago here. Apple's granted patent was originally filed in Q4 2013 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Comments are reviewed daily from 5am to 6pm MST and sporadically over the weekend.