Apple Invents a Method of Delivering Electrostatic Haptic Output to Distinct Localized areas of an iDevice Display
Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple relating to iDevices that deliver haptic output. More particularly, the invention relates to providing electrostatic haptic output through coating a surface of an idevice with a conductive coating and a passivation coating over the conductive coating. Instead of haptics primarily being vibratory in nature such as to inform a user of an incoming message, electrostatic haptic output is far more advanced in that it could be localized to a very specific part of a display such as a volume button on a display that provides very distinct feedback and/or friction to the user's touch.
This next generation of electrostatic haptic feedback may provide tactile sensations to a user in contact with the input surface, such as changes in friction.
The electronic device may include a hybrid conductive coating, which may include inorganic conductive and non-conductive particles within an organic matrix.
The hybrid conductive coating may include an electrostatic conductive layer, and the device may be configured to apply an electrostatic charge to an input surface or other exterior surface of the device through the electrostatic conductive layer.
The electrostatic charge may alter or modify a tactile or touch-based stimulus that is perceived by a user. In some cases, the tactile feedback may cause an increased (or decreased) friction or surface roughness between an object (e.g., the user's finger) and the exterior/input surface as the object is moved along the input surface, for example by electrostatically attracting the user's finger to the input surface.
Apple's patent FIGS. 9A, 9B and 9B depict various top views of an iDevice illustrating electrostatic haptic feedback on various localized portions of an input surface that developers could direct to correspond to a part of an app or game.
The input electrostatic haptic output could be used to present users with a push button, a touch-activated button, a power button, volume buttons, home buttons, camera buttons and scroll wheels. Generally, a touch sensor and a force sensor may also be classified as input components.
The electronic device is implemented as a portable electronic device such as an iPhone or iPad but technically the invention could also apply to the following in the future, according to Apple: laptop, a wearable device, a digital music player, a kiosk, a stand-alone touch screen display, a mouse, a keyboard, and other types of electronic devices that provide electrostatic haptic feedback at an external surface of a device.
Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was originally filed back in Q3 2017. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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