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Apple explores tactile feedback for multi-touch keyboard

updated 11:15 am EST, Thu December 24, 2009

Could be applied to forthcoming tablet

Apple has filed for a patent on a touch-surface keyboard with tactile feedback, US Patent and Trademark Office documents show. A problem with typing on touchscreens is that users must typically look at the keys to know what is being pressed; by contrast, most physical keyboards allow people to gauge where their fingers are through bumps and ridges. Apple's solution would pop up an "articulating frame" whenever typing is engaged, and move it out of the way when it is not.

A frame could be based around ridges or concave depressions, much as on a normal keyboard, or alternately on dedicated feedback mechanisms. Another proposed option is a non-articulating frame, simply providing more resistance the further a finger moves away from a key center. Activation of the frame could be triggered by placing fingers in the right place, or simply engaging in typing-like activity. A frame could be lowered when taps or slides are detected.

The technology could conceivably be employed in Apple's upcoming tablet, which a former Apple worker has suggested will surprise people in how they can interact with it. The patent filing is also not the first of its kind from the company, as a similar one was submitted as far back as 2007. The tablet may be announced in late January.

by MacNN Staff





  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I don't understand how this works

    Is this some sort of physical frame that distorts the layer of glass or some electrical field that only makes it seem that way? It seems rather complicated to me. I'd think think this was some sort of goal-tending patent being used to stop other people from using this. It seems to be a little complicated to be something Apple would use. Do people really need have physical keyboards that badly. Being a professional typist, I only rely on the f and j keyboard bumps for all my tactile positioning so I may be an exception. I think my fingers just automatically fall into place through many years of using a keyboard.

    I'd like to try this keyboard that Apple has in mind to get a better picture of what they're talking about. I just don't understand how a physical frame can work through glass.

  1. Sukoshi

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Touch keyboard, not touch screen. Didn't help that they used touchscreen in the second sentence. Look up Fingerworks, the cool keyboard makers Apple swallowed, and it will all make sense.

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