Reprogrammable Magnetic Fluids Could Let You Feel The Keys On Your iPad’s Virtual Keyboard

Reprogrammable Magnetic Fluids Could Let You Feel The Keys On Your iPad’s Virtual Keyboard

One of the biggest criticisms of virtual keyboards on a touchscreen display is that they offers users no feedback, making them more difficult to type on than a traditional keyboard. Designers have attempted to provide solutions to this problem with third-party accessories that clip onto your display, but Apple may be working on its own solution using coded magnets and ferrofluids that could be built into future iPads.

Patently Apple points to an Apple patent that details a system employing coded magnets and ferrofluids to provide haptic feedback on a touchscreen or virtual keyboard:

As one example, a coded magnet may be activated when a proximity sensor detects a finger approaching a touchpad or other surface capable of detecting a touch… As the finger (or other object) approaches the surface, the proximity sensor’s output may activate a coded magnet beneath the portion of the surface about to be impacted. This coded magnet may draw ferrofluid to it, resulting in an upper portion of the surface rising or bulging.

This would provide the user with a touch-sensitive surface that actually visual feedback as it senses it keystroke. In another embodiment, Apple explains how the technology could be used in virtual keyboard for a computer. By using the same principles, it explains that keys may be inflated with ferrofluid as they’re touched, or as your finger approaches each key.

This isn’t the first Apple patent that details methods of providing feedback on a virtual keyboard or touchscreen display. Last July, another filing detailed a method that employed piezoelectrics and “acoustic pulse recognition” to provide users with feedback as they type.

As with all of these patents, we can’t be sure that they’ll ever make their way into future Apple products. But it’s promising to see that the company is working to improve the typing experience on touch-sensitive displays.

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  • badtzwang

    You seriously need to proofread your articles if you want to be taken seriously

  • John Neumann

    Seriously, 30 seconds to read a story out loud back to yourself would make this much more readable. 

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  • Shaunathan Sprocket

    specifically “
    This would provide the user with a touch-sensitive surface that actually visual feedback as it senses it keystroke. In another embodiment, Apple explains how the technology could be used in virtual keyboard for a computer. “

  • Connor Mulcahey

    Yes the first two sentances in the paragaph after the quote don’t make sense, but we can still get wht you’re saying.

  • Njideka Okafor

    The day Apple made the iMac was the day Apple walked into the revolutionary modify all things. Ever since, they’ve sort to make all their devices simpler by combining or merging components that weren’t always a single unit. Take away the keyboard and give us touch screen. Now make that touchscreen more like a keyboard again. Let us talk to devices rather than the normal keep quiet, focus and type system. Do all things the way you really want to do it and not have to condescend to becoming some Tech-Geek.

    That’s the Logic that drive Apple. And its been great so far, for the higher majority who can’t afford to become geeks. And the best part… It works so damned well.

    >>>Just saying…

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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