Three New Patents: Haptic Feedback, Fingerprint Recognition And An RFID Reader
MacRumors has found several new pattent applciations from Apple showing three new technologies for use in future touchscreen devices like the iPhone and iPod touch. They include a possible solution for providing haptic tactile feedback, fingerprint identification, and the integration of an RFID reader.
In the first patent, Apple starts by acknowledging that the inability to feel the things on the iPhone’s screen can be a big disadvantage if you can’t see the screen. Their solution is the inclusion of a grid of piezoelectronic actuators in the screen that vibrate at different frequencies, allowing the user to feel a difference between the onscreen button and the rest of the screen, allowing them to find it and use it without looking at it.
This patent describes actually using fingerprint recognition to tell which finger someone is using to touch the screen, allowing them to actually assign different functions to different fingers. For example, tapping a button with your index finger might mean “Play/Stop”, whereas tapping with your middle finger could mean “Fast Forward”. Currently the technology for this doesn’t exist, as it would require cameras embedded in the display that were sensitive enough to pick up something as tiny as a fingerprint. We’d be surprised if this one made it in to the next iPhone.
The last of the notable applicaitons suggests embedding an RFID tag reader into the iPhone’s touch screen, allowing tags to be read by pressing them against the glass in a certain spot. Apple claims that it would be possible to embed an RFID aentenna in the touch screen itself, allowing it to double as a reader. There isn’t a lot of demand for this in the U.S. just yet, but it could be very useful as RFID tags become more commonplace in the future.