Apple invents texture-sensing stylus for future iPads

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This stylus would add new meaning to the word touchscreen.
Photo: USPTO/Apple

Steve Jobs was famously opposed to including a stylus with the iPad, but even he might have changed his mind had he caught a glimpse of the futuristic texture-sensing input device Apple just patented.

According to a pair of patent applications published today, Apple is working on stylus with in-built camera which would allow it to detect the surface over which it is passed and reproduce these textures for the user — even down to replicating the feel of different fabrics.

Apple patent hints at the amazing future of Force Touch

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Apple Watch-style Force Touch is coming to both iPhone models this September.
Apple Watch's Force Touch tech could be about to get a whole lot better. Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

The Force Touch technology seen in the Apple Watch and new MacBook is pretty great and all, but imagine being able to go further than the relatively simple haptic feedback Apple currently offers — by having your future Mac trackpad actually simulate different textures when you run your hand over it.

That’s the aim of a new patent application published today, which describes a new diamond-layered touch surface capable of using a variety of vibrations and temperatures to recreate a range of textures.

Easy hardware hack turns iPad into piano

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Photo: Adam Kumpf
This simple hardware hack adds a piano-style keyboard made of clothespins to your iPad. Photo: Adam Kumpf

The iPad is great for making music, but the lack of physical keys can be a drag for keyboardists. That shortcoming prompted Adam Kumpf to hack together a miniature piano attachment for the tablet using nothing more than wooden clothespins, aluminum foil, a few pieces of stiff cardboard and some rubber bands

Total cost? Less than $5.

Despite his creation’s humble DIY origins, Kumpf thinks the idea of iPad add-ons has the potential to take touchscreens to the next level.

“There’s an innate desire that users have to go beyond what the screen can usually do,” the 31-year-old MIT graduate tells Cult of Mac. “I strongly believe that there’s a world of accessories relating to capacitive touchscreens that’s just waiting to be explored.”

Good vibrations: KOR-FX vest puts you into the game

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The KOR-FX Vest modeled by an actress at the E3 booth. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
The KOR-FX Vest modeled by an actress at the E3 booth. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

LOS ANGELES — Drop this tactical-style vest onto your shoulders and fasten it high on your chest, and you’re suddenly feeling the action. Using audio-based haptic technology (the kind of rumbling vibrations that you’ll find in any video gaming controller), the KOR-FX turns the audio in the game into rumbles you can feel.

The makers of this new gaming peripheral have a few prototypes set up on the show floor at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles this week, and they’ll let all comers come and try a demo.

“Some people want to wear this thing lower on their chest, but up high is what stimulates the limbic system,” Seth Fandetti, CEO of Immerz (the makers of the KOR-FX) told us onsite at the expo. “It’s more than just feeling bullets hit you; it’s a whole immersive experience.”

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

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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.