Haptics is a tactile feedback technology which uses forces — normally vibrations in mobile devices — to provide feedback through your sense of touch. Most Android phones have some sort of haptic feedback at play and you can feel them at work when you touch the keyboard and get that bzt of a vibration in return. Apple has even filed patents for advanced forms of vibrating haptics. The only problem is that vibrating haptic systems, for the most part, kind of suck.
Something that I simultaneously do and don’t like about Android phones is the vibrate-on-touch haptic feedback — the way the phone will vibrate when you tap on a button. In does help with typing, but at the same time it can be a bit overwhelming to have the entire phone buzz in your hand every time you tap a letter.
This rumor that Matthew Panzarino brings up about an electrostatic-based haptic feedback technology has been circulating for at least a week or more, and I’ve been thinking about it a bit. I am having a hard time imagining just how great or not-great it would be in real life, but, what struck me today is that if anything, I bet this new type of feedback could greatly improve the ability to type on the iPad.
Here’s a CNET video with Dave Rice demoing the technology, and Panzarino’s article has an embedded video as well demoing the tech.
With this electrostatic-based haptic feedback, the whole device doesn’t buzz when you touch a feedback area, only the tip of your finger senses the “friction” that’s transmitted through the screen:
It has a system that uses varying electrostatic fields that can be pushed right through a pane of glass to give a user the feeling of various levels of friction, simulating surfaces. You can see the technology demonstrated back in 2010 on an iPhone here.
I have no personal experience trying this type of technology and so it’s hard to imagine what it’s like. If this does get announced in an hour from now it would make a lot of sense as to why the “And touch.” was part of the invite.
You can only understand the pizazz of a Retina display by looking at one in real life. And it’s likely that you can only truly understand the pizazz of this new touch-feedback technology by touching it in real life.