Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,373,549) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for tactile feedback in an electronic device.
Per the patent, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback using any suitable approach, including for example vibration, heat, electrical, visual, or any other type of feedback. The electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to detecting any particular status of the electronic device, receiving any particular input, or detecting any suitable communication received by the electronic device. For example, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to receiving a particular user input, or to detecting a user’s finger on a particular portion of the electronic device.
Here’s Apple’s background on the invention: “Portable electronic devices have shrunk while providing ever more functionality. Because the devices are smaller, users can more easily carry them, and use them in a variety of situations where larger, less portable electronic devices could be more difficult to use. An effect of the decrease in size of electronic devices has been a decrease in the size of input mechanisms for providing instructions to the electronic device, and a decrease in the size of displays or screens used to navigate the electronic devices and to access the electronic device functions.
“For some users, including for example users with poor vision, or users in dark environments (e.g., at night with little or no electronic device backlight), the reduction in size of the input mechanism and display inconveniences the users and may prevent the users from properly using the electronic device, thus leading to frustration. To remedy these limitations, electronic device manufacturers have spent much effort in creating electronic device interfaces with an emphasis on ease of use and intuitiveness.
“Some electronic devices provide tactile feedback to users in limited circumstances. For example, some electronic devices vibrate when a telephone call or text message is received. As another example, some electronic devices may vibrate in response to receiving a user selection of a vibration instruction (e.g., a vibrate button).”
The inventors are Anthony Fadell, Andrew Hodge, Stephen Zadesky, Aram Lindahl and Anthony Guetta.