Apple Wins a Patent for Future Advanced Haptics that could simulate heat like hot Cement on a Trackpad Surface
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 42 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover one of Apple's long standing inventions related to advanced haptics that could simulate heat on a MacBook Trackpad.
Apple's original work on this was first covered in a patent report that we published back in Q2 2015 that Apple filed in 2013. A second patent application for this invention was covered by us briefly back in Q3 2016. Today Apple was granted this patent under number 10,459,521.
Apple's patent covers systems and methods for simulating materials using touch surfaces. Such systems may include utilizing the temperature control device (such as a Peltier device) to control the temperature of at least a portion of the touch surface in order to simulate the tactile sensation of the thermal conductivity of a material.
Apple notes that "The touch surface may include a layer of diamond material. The diamond material may be a layer of chemical vapors deposited diamond, such as a layer of carbon vapor deposited diamond. Such a layer of diamond may provide extremely high thermal conductivity, extreme mechanical hardness, and/or optical broadband optical transparency."
For example, an actuator that produces heat during operation may cause the temperature of a touch surface to be warmer than the temperature of a cement surface in order to produce sufficient vibration to simulate the texture of the cement. To ameliorate this heating, the touch surface may be cooled (or heat sunk or otherwise heat dissipated or diffused) by one or more temperature cooling devices in order to prevent the simulation of texture from causing the touch surface to have temperature properties even less like the simulated material than it would normally.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A below is an isometric view of an example system for simulating materials using touch surfaces; FIG. 1B is a front cross-sectional view of the example system of FIG. 1. As illustrated, the touch device #102 may be part of a touch device system that may include one or more temperature control devices #104 (such as one or more Peltier devices), temperature sensors #105, actuators #106 (such as one or more electromechanical actuators), touch sensors #107 (such as one or more position sensors, force sensors, capacitive sensors, and/or other sensors capable of detecting one or more characteristics of a touch).
Apple's patent FIG. 1C above is a block diagram illustrating an example functional relationship of the components of the touch device system of the example system of FIG. 1B.
In this granted patent we found that patent claim #8 added something new that the other applications didn't cover. It's about an "electronic device" as follows:
Claim 8: "An electronic device, comprising: a touch-sensitive surface; a group of temperature control devices operably connected to, and positioned directly beneath, the touch-sensitive surface, each of the group of temperature control devices associated with different unique regions of the touch-sensitive surface; a group of actuators directly coupled to, and positioned directly beneath, the touch-sensitive surface; and a processing unit that simulates a material on a designated region of the touch-sensitive surface located above at least one of the group of temperature control devices and at least one of the group of actuators, the processing unit configured to execute instructions that: controls a temperature of the designated region of the touch-sensitive surface using the at least one of the group of temperature control devices; and vibrates the designated region of the touch-sensitive surface using at least one of the actuators that is located beneath the designated region."
Our 2015 patent report noted that Apple originally filed for this patent back in Q4 2013. Today's granted patent was issued under 10,459,521. Check out our original report for more details and patent figures here.