iPad 3/HD big new feature may be touch-feedback display [Update]

When Apple sent out invitations to the launch event of its next-generation iPad, it teased a cropped image of the new device, along with the headline: “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

Since then, the focus has been very much on the new tablet’s display. It’s widely expected that the device will feature a high-resolution ‘Retina Display’, leading some to speculate that it will be called the iPad HD. But the broad assumption so far seems to have been that the reference to “touch” was just a dab of hyperbole – the notion that this display will look so good that you just have to touch it.

But what if there’s more to it than that? The Guardian and The Next Web have both been doing some digging independently from each other, and have apparently both reached a similar conclusion: there’s a good chance that the new iPad will feature some sort of feedback technology that responds to touch interaction.

Where TNW’s approach was largely speculative, The Guardian went a little further by following its speculation to one source of this technology, a Finnish start-up company called Senseg, who had previously met with the British newspaper in January.

Its E-Sense system creates the impression that a touchscreen has real texture, through so-called ‘tixels’ using electric fields via elements embedded around the edge of the screen. These tixels can make specific areas of the display feel rough or ridged, for example, in response to the image being displayed on screen. As TNW points out, perhaps the most significant element of this technology – at least as far as the new iPad is concerned – is that E-Sense “requires no modification of the screen’s surface, nor does it use moving parts”, meaning that it could conceivably be integrated into Apple’s new tablet without requiring substantial re-engineering of the display.

In January, the company confirmed to The Guardian that it was in discussions with tablet manufacturers, but stopped short of identifying Apple as a likely customer. This week, Senseg’s technical marketing manager, Petri Jehkonen, still wouldn’t confirm that E-Sense would be used on the iPad, but when asked outright if Apple is a customer, he stated: “That would be for Apple to say. My comment is no comment.”

Not exactly the most resounding denial – but of course that’s not the same as a confirmation. There’s one more aspect worth considering though. It’s no secret that Apple’s invitations to its media events are meticulously crafted; as we’ve seen in the past, everything that's included is there for a reason. When Apple invited the world’s press to gather for its iPhone 4S launch last year, it did so with the tagline “Let’s talk iPhone”; days later, it revealed the Siri voice-controlled digital assistant, exclusively available on its new iPhone handset.

If we credit Apple on this occasion with the consistency and attention to detail for which it has become known, there surely has to be a very good reason for it to append that tantalising “And touch” phrasing to its invitation for today’s announcement.

We’ll find out later today whether the new iPad’s display feels as good as it looks.


In the meantime, check out this awesome iPad 3 concept, featuring 3D holo-display

 

Update: Pocket-lint got a slightly different response from Senseg, and one which gives the strongest hint yet that there's something to all of this. A Senseg spokesman told them: "We won't be making any statements until after Apple's announcement." Would Senseg be so careful to avoid letting the cat out of the bag if there was nothing to these reports...?

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Whilst I could see this possibly being of a benefit to disabled people with no/bad eyesight it just looks like another Apple gimmick like Siri to make people think they are getting something really neat but after a few weeks the excitement dies down.

Their phone would benefit more from it though tbh, my blind friend with an "accessible" iphone generally hates it as the cover to help orient the phone makes the touch functions rather poor from normal

I could see this being a complete game changer for the blind. Being able to have ebooks in Braille would make their lives a lot easier.

Sounds like a cool technology, but it also sounds like another battery sink to me. Today's mobile devices can't afford to implement superfluous things like this when battery technology is as terrible as it is.

spacer said,
Sounds like a cool technology, but it also sounds like another battery sink to me. Today's mobile devices can't afford to implement superfluous things like this when battery technology is as terrible as it is.

Uses 5% more power when used, obviously you don't use it all the time but even if you did instead of 10 hour battery life it would be 9.5 hours.

Would be neat if they do use it but I'd be surprised, they're adding a retina display and upgrading the cpu/gpu and ram, that's normally enough. You'd think it's more likely for the ipad 4.

And to the people who are saying Nokia already has it, no they don't, read about how this works, it's nothing like a simple buzzer.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tech.../ipad-3-touch-senseg-haptic

If the iPad HD were to have true haptic feedback (vibration when touching a touch target is not proper haptic feedback) I'd buy one instantly.

The problem with touchscreens right now is that especially when using the keyboard you have no touch sense when you're on the right key whereas on a real keyboard you can feel the edges of the keys and the pressing down movement lets you feel that you've clicked right. With a real haptic feedback implementation you would be able to feel the edges of a virtual key and as you click the key the impulse could change so that your brain thinks you've clicked something.

Nokia and others have had this kind of technology in development for a few years now so it would be awesome to finally see it in real products.

The technology works using an extra layer applied to the whole surface of the screen rather than just a few buzzing spots. The result is that it can recreate the sensation of different surfaces that correspond to what's onscreen. Silk, sandpaper, a ball, rippling corrugated iron, all these can be emulated by this clever tech.

All Nokia's phones have haptic feedback.
Nokia has been working on a research project for at least 7 years that involves haptic feedback isolated to the section of the screen that you pressed (that is only the pixels your finger is on will vibrate).
Is that what people are suggesting Apple has done?

Surprised Nokia hasn't released a product with this yet.

Sacha said,
All Nokia's phones have haptic feedback.
Nokia has been working on a research project for at least 7 years that involves haptic feedback isolated to the section of the screen that you pressed (that is only the pixels your finger is on will vibrate).
Is that what people are suggesting Apple has done?

Surprised Nokia hasn't released a product with this yet.

No one is suggesting that apple did it. They're saying Senseg have made the technology and its possible that Apple will include it in their next iPad.

the420kid said,
haptic feedback = marketing gimic. nothing more nothing less.

I hope you mean vibrational haptic feedback as opposed to this (electrostatic) feedback. If this really can mimic a texture then it will change the way you interact with your device. Typing will be immensely easier and blind people may actually be able to use touchscreen phones. Those are just things I thought of off the top of my head. I'm sure there a tonnes of applications for this.

Just thought of another. If you are playing a game with a joystick on screen, you can feel when you've pulled the joystick to its limit in one direction.

Edited by M4x1mus, Mar 7 2012, 6:22pm :

Guys, this is NOT haptic feedback, this is something else entirely, "fooling" your finger into thinking it is on a textured surface using electro-static technology. V.cool.

It could be used to make respons so you know when the Device has picked up Your touch. This will make it easier toknow if the app is frozen or if the Device is screwed.. also, it can be used in games like they display. This can be used to create many new creative games and apps. Maybe add it to.... a dj app or something, where you could do more Advanced scratching by feeling the feedback, ex. feel the friction between Your LP and the surface beneath.

I don't understand haptic feedback... I know when I've touched something, the issue is what I've touched. It's not as though this will aid touch typing, or the ability to play games with on screen keypads.

threetonesun said,
I don't understand haptic feedback... I know when I've touched something, the issue is what I've touched. It's not as though this will aid touch typing, or the ability to play games with on screen keypads.

I don't see how this wouldn't help touch typing. If you accidentally press two keys you'll be able to feel that and correct without having to look at what you've typed to verify. It would also give you the ability to start typing while looking at the keyboard and look away for short periods without losing your position on the keyboard.

warr said,
does the screen feedback or the phone trembles?

It uses electro-static technology to create discrete touch feedback - so no the phone is not trembling.

To be fair, this technology created by this Senseg crowd does seem impressive. I guess it takes touch technology to that next stage by creating extra sensory feel.

At least it is somewhat more innovative than Siri was, but I fear it will just become another novelty.

Nokia has been working on touch feedback isolated to the pixels your finger touches.
Nothing seemed to ever come from it though.

I was able to use Haptic feedback on my old iPhone 4 using a jailbreak tweak downloaded from Cydia...works fine especially typing on keyboard

It seems the haptic function is there in the iOS but Apple disabled it

On the other hands, my old Nokia 5800 with resisitive screen also have haptic feedback touch screen

Eins.MY said,
It seems the haptic function is there in the iOS but Apple disabled it

No. The jailbreak tweaks for haptic feedback simply add a minor vibration to key presses. They're not enabling something Apple had coded in and then disabled.