I was excited to hear about the new Apple Tablet that might be called
the iBook, or iSlate.
I ran across this report of a tactile screen.
that sounds a lot like Braille.
Now what would the game development possibilities be for a device that
give you a 9 inch field of tactile dots and that could also sense ten
presses with stereo sound and have a human like speech synthesizer?
Possible Apple tablet multi-touch tactile keyboard detailed
Thursday, December 24, 2009
By Neil Hughes
Published: 08:40 AM EST
Apple's forthcoming tablet could employ a dynamic surface that gives users
tactile feedback when typing in order to identify individual keys,
to a new patent application revealed this week.
Using an "articulating frame," the surface of such a device would create
physical bumps or dots for the user to feel when it is in keyboard mode.
Those surface features would retract and disappear when the device is not
being used to type. It is detailed in an application entitled "Keystroke
Tactility Arrangement on a Smooth Touch Surface." It is similar to an
application first filed back in 2007.
"The articulating frame may provide key edge ridges that define the
boundaries of the key regions or may provide tactile feedback mechanisms
within the key regions," the application reads. "The articulating frame
also be configured to cause concave depressions similar to mechanical key
caps in the surface."
The tactile feedback keyboard is revealed as one anonymous source told The
New York Times that users would be "surprised" how they interact with the
Another example in the application describes a rigid, non-articulating
beneath the surface. It would provide higher resistance when pressing away
from the key centers, but softer resistance at the center of a virtual
guiding hands to the proper location.
The patent notes that pointing and typing require very different needs:
Pointing is best on a smooth surface with little friction, while typing is
preferred on keys with edges that fingertips can feel. Simply putting
Braille-like dots on the 'F' and 'J' keys, as is on most physical
is not enough, because it does not address alignment issues with outside
Conversely, while placing dots on every single key on a surface would help
user find their location, it would take away the smooth surface necessary
for touch controls that users are accustomed to on a glass screen like the
The patent aims to offer the best of both worlds with a new device that
could dynamically change its surface.
"Preferably, each key edge comprises one to four distinct bars or
Braille-like dots," the application reads. "When constructed in
with a capacitive multi-touch surface, the key edge ridges should
to accommodate the routing of the drive electrodes, which may take the
of rows, columns, or other configurations."
The system would also intelligently determine when the user wishes to
and when they intend to use the screen as a pointing device.
"Specifically, the recognition software commands lowering of the frame
lateral sliding gestures or mouse clicking activity chords are detected on
the surface," the application states. Alternatively, when homing chords
(i.e., placing the fingers on the home row) or asynchronous touches
activity) is detected on the surface, the recognition software commands
raising of the frame."
Apple filed the Application on Aug. 28, 2009. The invention is credited to
Wayne Carl Westerman of San Francisco, Calif.
Another Apple patent application revealed this week deals with a
controller that uses transparent touch sensors and does not require an
opaque surface. The description is included in a patent application
"Multipoint Touch Surface Controller."
"While virtually all commercially available touch screen based systems
available today provide single point detection only and have limited
resolution and speed, other products available today are able to detect
multiple touch points," the application reads. "Unfortunately, these
products only work on opaque surfaces because of the circuitry that must
placed behind the electrode structure."
The described invention would include drive electronics that stimulate the
multi-touch sensor and sensing circuits for reading the sensor in a single
integrated package. This is said to be different from some previous
multi-touch technology, which has been limited in terms of detectable
due to the size of the detection circuitry.
The invention, filed for by Apple on Aug. 27, 2009, is credited to Steven
Hotelling, Christoph H. Krah and Brian Quentin Huppi of California.
In October, another patent application showed off how a multi-touch tablet
interface might work, with a surface that could detect ten individual
fingers, along with resting palms, and identify each of them separately.
hand-based system was said to allow "unprecedented integration of typing,
resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a
versatile, ergonomic computer input device."
Apple is said to have been at work on its rumored tablet device device for
many years and has been the number one focus of CEO Steve Jobs since
returning to his company this summer.
Gamers mailing list __ Gamers@audyssey.org
If you want to leave the list, send E-mail to
You can make changes or update your subscription via the web, at
All messages are archived and can be searched and read at
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the management of the
please send E-mail to gamers-ow...@audyssey.org.