“New” Tactile iPhone 5 Touchscreen Rumor Recycles “Haptic …
iPhone 5 rumors die hard — and seem to come around and again and again. This time, it’s the “new” tactile iPhone 5 touchscreen. The new story was spurred from a bit of new technology that has made it onto the tech scene and, since all new technology must obviously be coming to the next Apple device, that is reason enough to believe the iPhone 5 will feature it. Cue the UK version of PC Advisor, who had this to say in their article “iPhone 5 will have a tactile touchscreen:”
A variety of news outlets picked up on a new tactile touch-screen technology unveiled this week at the SID Display Week trade show by a Fremont, Calif.-based startup, Tactus Technology. Using something called “microfluidics,” Tactus replaces the conventional top layer of a touch screen with a flexible membrane. Tiny amounts of special oil are pumped through tiny channels in the membrane, “inflating” the keys and buttons of, for example, a qwerty keyboard. You actually have “real” keys to press. When you’re done, the oil drains away and the membrane, in theory, flattens out and disappears, to become a flat touch screen again.
True to iPhone 5 rumor form, the article never makes the case f0r how Tactus’ new technology leads to a headline like, “iPhone 5 will have a tactile touchscreen,” but before you get super-excited about this story, it’s worth noting: the tactile touchscreen rumor for the iPhone 5 is old hat. Even worse: this technology looks nothing like what Apple has patented for its own “haptic feedback” designs.
Take a look at this article from February 22, 2011 — it outlines Apple’s own patents for creating a tactile screen that could give haptic feedback to the user. This ain’t your Android’s haptic feedback — that skin-crawling vibration every time you touch the screen — this would be a flexible screen with hardware underneath it that would raise or lower the screen accordingly. Granted — the above mentioned technology seems slicker than this patent — but the patent and the article demonstrates the longevity of its existence.
And Tactus and Apple are not the only two shows in town when it comes to this technology. NetworkWorld‘s John Cox wrote this article on the eve of the iPad 3 drop about the rumor that the new iPad would feature haptic touch on its screen:
The iPad 3 may feature what’s known as a haptics screen – one that gives your fingers the sensation of different physical textures, depending on the image they’re touching. The supplier named, in a news story by the British mobile website Pocket-Lint, is Finland-based Senseg, which acknowledged in a separate story last year that it’s “working with a certain tablet maker based in Cupertino,” Calif. Apple is headquartered there.
What do all of these tactile rumors have in common? None of them have come true? Based on all of the technologies represented, it would seem that they could significantly increase the construction cost of an iPhone, and it simply might not be worth it to Apple to include a feature that, in the end, users may not like the feel of — literally.
By Michael Nace