Apple wants to stick physical keys under the iPhone's screen... some day

Apple wants to stick physical keys under the iPhone's screen... some day
We've been hearing about Apple's plans to implement a haptic feedback system for quite some time now. The first filed patents we know of date back to 2009, but the Cupertinians have yet to deliver a device toting the system. Haptic feedback is a tech that provides localized vibrations whenever the user touches the screen, in order to better simulate the use of a keyboard, or to enhance app experience.We have heard rumors about the iPhone 6 finally arriving with haptic feedback on board, sources calling it Apple's “secret weapon”, though that remains to be (dis)proven in a couple of weeks.

Now, a tech that is most probably not going to be found in the iPhone 6 has been uncovered in an Apple patent, filed on the 28th of June, 2011. It shows that the company is definitely exploring options to add a physical keyboard-like feeling to the 'lifeless' virtual QWERTY. The patent describes a device that may tote a flexible display, designed to allow physical keys, buttons, speakers, and microphones to be placed under it. Pressing on the screen would make it bend inwards, allowing the user to click the button underneath. To finish off the feel of the press – haptic feedback would be employed to vibrate the area of interaction. Alternatively, the device could be able to have its under-the-screen keys pop up and push out the flexible display in the form of a grid – presumably, to simulate a keyboard. As an extra bonus, the paper suggests that the display will be able to cover up the entire front of the screen – since the Home could easily be hidden under the display, and the patent does describe speakers and microphones to be hidden underneath the display.

Now, this tech is probably far off – a patent doesn't guarantee that the company is ever going to manufacture something. Still, it's an interesting sci-fi-phone idea.

source: USPTO via AppleInsider

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