Apple patents a touchscreen that emulates different materials thanks to vibrations, temperature

Due to various reasons, Apple is one of the tech players that has a great many patents and patent applications up its sleeve. The latest addition to their invention portfolio is a touchscreen display that can simulate the feel of various materials. 

The patent has been granted by the USPTO today, April 23, and explains that the display makes use of an actuator to vibrate the surface of the screen and change its temperature in order to fool users that they are not touching a plastic display, but a material of other origin.

The actuator that causes the display to vibrate may move in different directions and with different speed so as to emulate smooth or rough surfaces, like plastic, metal, and glass. In addition, the change of the display's surface temperature also adds up to the "illusion", as it tries to simulate the thermal conductivity of the same material.

As usual with patents, it's not known whether this tech will make it to a consumer device, i.e. a future iPhone or an iPad. The honchos at Cupertino might have something in mind and surprise us in September, but we shouldn't rule out the more plausible possibility that Apple is just patenting this technology so that it has the upper hand if someone else comes up with a similar idea.

source: USPTO via AppleInsider



1. shaineql

Posts: 522; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Love how all these companies keep patenting this sci fi s**t. Yolo

3. tedkord

Posts: 17410; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

This is why part of the patenting process should be demonstration of a fully working prototype, with the patent office confirming that it actually does what is asserted. It's just too easy to file these pie in the sky patents to block others from developing such tech.

15. engineer-1701d unregistered

you mean microsofts s**t microsoft labs shows basically this plus how the screen can feel like other materials, working prototype and patents

2. TBomb

Posts: 1563; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

The last sentence is key.


Posts: 9; Member since: Jan 28, 2015

already being done (minus the temperature): Tangible Haptics

5. gaming64 unregistered

Too early for that, Apple.

6. gaming64 unregistered

Too early for that, Apple.

7. UglyFrank

Posts: 2194; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

Have they actually done this or are they scum?

8. singhkaran9830 unregistered

They didn't made a prototype,just a patent of this tech.

14. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Most of it Apple has already done on the watch and MacBook. All they need to do is add the temperature stuff and boom!

9. bambamboogy02

Posts: 840; Member since: Jun 23, 2012

Patenting ideas. Patents should only be granted with a working prototype. Not a if/when we build this, type of deal.

11. fzacek

Posts: 2486; Member since: Jan 26, 2014

Stop patenting random s**t, Apple!...

12. darkkjedii

Posts: 31286; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Call them, and tell them that.

13. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Haptic touch/feel screen will finally be here! Put it on an iPad and take my money!!!

16. engineer-1701d unregistered

its here is called microsoft.

17. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

1: wasn't there an article about someone else working on something like this a bit back? 2: that's a very ...very vague patent

18. rrroseen3

Posts: 1; Member since: May 29, 2015

None of the above comments show any knowledge of patent laws that the US Patent office must follow. PAtent law says the USPTO will only grant patents on working novel inventions. They are not issued to nonworking inventions, but USPTO relies on statements in declaration that the inventors have reduced it to practice ie. prototype. Any false statement in the declaration of that patent makes the patent invalid and the inventor punishable by fine or prison. This is USC. Statute law. In practice a prototype often has many differences from a final product.

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