Fu­ture Force Touch

Gary Mar­shall goes pan­ning in the river of ru­mour for nuggets of knowl­edge

Mac Format - - ISPY -

Ap­ple’s been get­ting aw­fully touchy of late. Force Touch, its com­bi­na­tion of a vi­bra­tion mech­a­nism and pres­sure-sen­si­tive force sen­sors, en­ables MacBook and MacBook Pro users to feel as if they’re us­ing a phys­i­cal switch in­stead of tap­ping on glass, while the same tech­nol­ogy in the Ap­ple Watch can tap you or trans­mit some­body else’s heart­beat. And whether it’s on your wrist or un­der­neath your fin­gers, it can also de­tect dif­fer­ent lev­els of pres­sure and re­act to your touch ac­cord­ingly.

Force Touch is ex­pected to ap­pear in iPhones and iPads, but Ap­ple has even more in­ter­est­ing ideas for your fin­gers. In its patent ap­pli­ca­tion “Touch Sur­face for Sim­u­lat­ing Ma­te­ri­als”, Ap­ple de­scribes how hap­tic feed­back could be used to “sim­u­late a ma­te­rial” such as me­tal or wood in a MacBook track­pad. It might even in­clude a ther­mal el­e­ment called a Peltier De­vice to heat or cool the bit that you’re touch­ing. Fancy feel­ing cold, cold steel or hot, hot sand when you play games or book hol­i­days?

Mul­ti­ple patents sug­gest that Ap­ple has big plans for Force Touch across all kinds of de­vices. For ex­am­ple, in 2013 it was granted its sec­ond patent for Force Touch sen­sors in the Magic Mouse, of­fer­ing ges­tures in­clud­ing “nudge”, “scoop”, “tilt” and “tap”.

There’s another place you might see Force Touch soon, and that’s be­tween your fin­gers. We’ve known that Ap­ple has been ex­per­i­ment­ing with sty­luses for some time, and in 2012 Ap­ple filed a patent ap­pli­ca­tion for a Force Touch pen. Such a pen would be much more in­ter­est­ing than a mere sty­lus: it might em­u­late brush strokes in a draw­ing pro­gram, with its built-in speaker of­fer­ing a suit­able sound­track to each stroke, or it might use phys­i­cal feed­back when the tip ap­proaches a bound­ary or a tap­pable bit of the UI.

Do you think the keys on the new MacBook don’t move much? Soon, they might not move at all. In 2011, Ap­ple filed a patent de­scrib­ing a hap­tic sys­tem that uses tiny puffs of air to make the user “feel” the keys of an en­tirely vir­tual key­board, such as the on-screen key­boards we’re used to in iPads and iPhones. A MacBook whose key­board was as smooth as its screen would cer­tainly look fan­tas­tic. Could hap­tic feed­back make it feel fan­tas­tic too?

Fu­ture Force Touch track­pads could use hap­tic feed­back to sim­u­late real ma­te­ri­als. They might even change tem­per­a­ture as you touch them.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.