If we say “notification” the first thing that comes to mind is a sound, maybe a vibration, maybe the banner coming down from the top of the screen, but few of us think of anything. touch. This is precisely what the engineers at Cupertino envision as an alternative way of informing us about the news, a technology allow a new type of interaction and open the door to profound changes on devices we know now.
Many more possibilities than it seems
The patent “Tactile outputs for input structures of electronic devices” explores the possibility of using a tactile component in notifications. We’re not talking about a notification, but something that be able to detect by running our finger across the surface of the device. A news indicator that is much less intrusive than a sound or a vibration and which can be very practical in more than one case.
Normally, notifications are something specific over time, or we are witnessing them right now or they go away (notifications, not notified). Similar to the red dot on the top of the Apple Watch, a tactile notification remains there ready to be detected when we devote our interest to it. A system that also avoids distracting us with messages and warnings.
Apple states that a touch notification can provide information to us without our having to pay visual attention to the device. How? ‘Or’ What? According to the patent, the idea is that “the tactile function present on the surface of the device changes inward or outward from the surface of the device, rotates, precedes, changes shape or a combination of the above” . A process that could be invisible to observation, but it is felt by touch and it could be present in many devices, from the trackpad of our Mac to its keyboard, the Apple Watch box, etc.
An interesting patent which, combined with another recently released, goes even further in the way we interact with our devices. The second patent, titled “Disappearing Button or Slider”, explores the possibility that the body of a device hides buttons within itself. We have already seen how Apple is particularly adept at hiding tiny LEDs
Devices with buttons that we don’t see, but notice. Notifications, water resistance and more.
Apple recognizes that aesthetics are important, but that they can’t interfere with usability. Reflecting in particular on the input interface that we as users use to interact with the device, he mentions how the iPhone has a full, transparent touchscreen, much more elegant than a half-screen half-keyboard mechanical.
Likewise, the possibility of hiding buttons and controls on the body or the chassis of the same device is therefore attractive from an aesthetic point of view, but it is also interesting. great news in terms of durability and resistance to water and dust
Apple offers a capacitive system, like the one we already have on screens. Nail a very small deformation in the intended area would interact with this system and it would transmit the signal to the device. A system that allows you to imagine changes in what is meant by keyboard, for example.
It is common that in the technological environment we sometimes hear phrases like “what else are they going to do with the iPhone?” It’s good like this”. Patents like those today allow us to see that there is a lot of room for improvements and changes in devices. Whether we imagine an iPhone without ports or buttons, or a keyboard without keys, we will see how many of these patents we will see in a few years.