Tactile Feedback for the iPhone
Everyone is worried about the iPhone’s lack of buttons and how that will make it hard to dial when you aren’t looking at the phone. Typing text messages may be difficult, too. The Nokia Internet Tablets (770 and N800) have a touch keyboard with large buttons that pops up when you are entering text with your fingers instead of your stylus. I have less than perfect accuracy with that interface. What we need is tactile feedback for our touch screens.
It turns out that at least one company makes such a thing. Immersion has a white paper on the topic which includes this description:
Immersion proprietary TouchSense technology causes the touchscreen to vibrate, creating the feeling of pressing mechanical switches, emulating crisp qualities and particular force and release characteristics. TouchSense tactile feedback is controlled by the application software, so touching different onscreen objects produces the optimal, desired, context-sensitive feel.
On the iPhone, what if the buttons will FEEL different than the rest of the screen. What if, additionally, the screen is pressure sensitive and it will require you to put down more pressure so you can touch the buttons without pressing them. Maybe Multi-Touch isn’t the only hardware innovation going on here.
This could be really good.
And if Apple didn’t go in this direction? There is another possibility. What if the screen itself will have ridges or raised surfaces or textures where the buttons are? Note that they don’t want to use a stylus. A stylus could rub against those imperfections and hurt the screen, while your fingers won’t cause any damage. Maybe these ridges and raised surfaces can appear and disappear at runtime in predetermined (like memory wire) or (better) dynamic locations. I guess we’ll ‘see’ soon enough.