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  • Is This the Tablet's Keyboard?


    In the crush of reports about the increasingly-likely Apple tablet announcement, there was one particularly intriguing hint. An anonymous source identified only as a "recently departed Apple employee" told the New York Times's Nick Bilton that users “will be very surprised how [they] interact with the new tablet.” A recently revealed Apple patent covered by AppleInsider gives a clue as to what the 'surprise' might be: a virtual keyboard that you can actually feel.

    One of the problems with typing on a touch surface is the inability to get any sort of feel for where the keys are. The feedback that you get from feeling the bumps on the F and J keys of a physical keyboard would be provided on this virtual keyboard by means of what Apple is calling an ‘articulating frame.'

    “The articulating frame may provide key edge ridges that define the boundaries of the key regions or may provide tactile feedback mechanisms within the key regions,” Apple said in its patent application, called “Keystroke Tactility Arrangement on a Smooth Touch Surface.” The touchscreen would morph to give "concave depressions similar to mechanical key caps in the surface" when the user was typing, and return to a smooth surface when the screen was used for viewing and pointing. The device's operating system would determine whether the user wants to type or point.

    “The recognition software commands lowering of the frame when lateral sliding gestures or mouse clicking activity chords are detected on the surface,” the application reads. When you place your fingers on the "home row" area of the screen, or begin to make 'typing' gestures, the device would raise the articulating frame, allowing you to orient your fingers.

    The patent application was filed Aug. 28 2009 by Apple, with Wayne Carl Westerman listed as the inventor. Westerman has 40 patents to his name, most of which are for Apple touch technology
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Is This the Tablet's Keyboard? started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. StealthBravo's Avatar
      StealthBravo -
      yes
    1. gthugballin's Avatar
      gthugballin -
      sounds sexy.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      isnt this just the same technology that the blackberry storm has on their touch interface?
    1. RyanWS's Avatar
      RyanWS -
      Ugh... I don't know if I would like this, but Apple would make it perfectly because that is what they do.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Can't wait for this to come out, well worth the money, especially to use at school!
    1. winchaman's Avatar
      winchaman -
      thats some futuristic tech they got going on there! that'll put apple over the top once again!

      *i dont think its like the bb storm, its gonna be like a expandable screen and a keyboard frame is coming up from below the screen each time you write... haha hope it responds well
    1. wannagotopopeyes's Avatar
      wannagotopopeyes -
      Quote Originally Posted by rhekt View Post
      isnt this just the same technology that the blackberry storm has on their touch interface?
      I'm pretty sure the "storm" just has a screen that clicks as a whole, like the touch pads on the new macbook/macbook pro's are a "button built into the touchpad", thats how the storm's screen works.

      This patent SOUNDS like it has some sort of concave sections that form when you want to type so you can feel where each virtual key actually is; sounds like (if this is actually the case/it actually works this well) it will make typing on this mystery tablet very VERY intuitive and normal-feeling. Can't wait!!
    1. M4tt Dam0n's Avatar
      M4tt Dam0n -
      Quote Originally Posted by rhekt View Post
      isnt this just the same technology that the blackberry storm has on their touch interface?
      Hum not at all. How it works on the storm is only that you can click the entire screen. Like the screen is a huge button.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      actually...if you guys have ever played around with a BB storm, it indents to every push on the touch screen[all over]. [same concept as illustrated above] before you jump on the bandwagon to bash on me. im not bashing Apples newly discovered patent. only the similarities to that of the BB storm. which by the description above and the fact that ive physically touched the BB storm in action. they both sound similar. is it beyond reasonable assumption that one technology can form slightly differently into another companies infrastructure for new devices. not entirely exactly non plausible

      i might want to add, that im all for this tablet/slate/ibook. iwant it as bad as you guys and im sure this technology is going to top anything out there.before you fanboys get out of control...im the fanboy president. so there.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by rhekt View Post
      actually...if you guys have ever played around with a BB storm, it indents to every push on the touch screen[all over]. [same concept as illustrated above] before you jump on the bandwagon to bash on me. im not bashing Apples newly discovered patent. only the similarities to that of the BB storm. which by the description above and the fact that ive physically touched the BB storm in action. they both sound similar. is it beyond reasonable assumption that one technology can form slightly differently into another companies infrastructure for new devices. not entirely exactly non plausible

      i might want to add, that im all for this tablet/slate/ibook. iwant it as bad as you guys and im sure this technology is going to top anything out there.before you fanboys get out of control...im the fanboy president. so there.
      I don't think anyone was bashing you at all. That said, I do think this is quite similar, at least in concept. Interesting thing is that when this was announced for the storm all the Apple peeps were saying how lame and pointless that was
      I will say this does seem like a step up from what the storm has in that you physically should be able to feel each key with this technology (the storm at the end of the day still feels like a solid slate of glass).
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      ^^ true true...i must have been still amped up from all the holiday candy i ate. im much better now.
    1. winchaman's Avatar
      winchaman -
      i think its gonna be similar but the tablet isnt gonna have buttons! Its just the keyframe and then touchclick only! its gonna be a hell ova ride!
    1. phear86's Avatar
      phear86 -
      I am definitely not bashing anyone, except the fact that my delete key also happens to be my back button in both safari and chrome beta! Well this is my second typing attempt.

      OK, the storm(after some quick research), utilizes a mobile version of some tech that was first used several years ago. In example, Alpine used it in some double din in-dash receivers.

      The point of it is to give a response to the user to signify confirmation of a "key" press by sending a sharp and quick vibration(or "click"), through the screen of the device.

      Apples concept is to give a tactile feel to the user of where the keys are, using a solid frame with a keyboard silhouette that rises and pushes against the screen and touch surface. They may or may not use a similar tech, as in the storm, in the screen as well in addition to the frame, but that is yet to be seen.

      On a side note, in order for this to work, they would have to use an oled display due to its ability to flex. as far as touch goes, they would surely use a capacitative touch panel to continue deployment of multi-touch devices.

      My initial concern is the fact that users stuck on using tablets in portrait mode will be forced to type in landscape mode due to the permanent frame under the surface. This could be worked around using a more complex multi-part frame underneath, one to raise in landscape mode, and one for portrait, however I doubt apple will do this, due to a few reasons, one of which is that it will be difficult to type in portrait mode because a full size keyboard will not fit well along the bottom of a portrait orientated screen.
    1. iLaw-One's Avatar
      iLaw-One -
      Who cares? Let's wait till it comes out!!