Updated.Once again, Apple(s aapl) may have tipped off a feature of its next iPad in plain sight. The final words on its press invite for Wednesday’s iPad event say the company has something to see — “And touch.” This very well could be the first Apple tablet that “touches” you back using highly specialized haptic feedback.
If this feature debuts in the iPad, it would likely come from technology developed by Senseg, a Helsinki-based company that specializes in touch technology. Here’s a demo provided to CNet illustrating what Senseg can accomplish with highly-focused electrostatic fields on a touchscreen:
Blog site Pocket-lint reached out to Senseg for any comments on the new iPad and was told, “We won’t be making any statements until after Apple’s announcement.” That’s certainly not a confirmation of the company’s involvement, but it keeps the door open to such a development.
So what would it take for the iPad HD to include Senseg’s magical touch technology? Not much that would increase the size or drastically change the current components: a screen coating to feel the “tixels” as they’re called, a small electronics module to manage the tactile signals, and software:
The Tixel is the means by which Senseg’s technology transmits electro-vibration stimulus. It is an ultra-thin durable coating on the touch interface that outputs tactile effects. Senseg’s patented Tixel can be applied to almost any surface, flat or curved, hard or soft, transparent or opaque. Because there are no moving parts in Senseg’s solution it can scale to almost any size of device. Moreover, with no mechanical inertia Senseg tactile response is immediate.
This is just the type of technology that Apple would introduce at a device event. It would be considered “magical” to the masses and would open up completely new experiences for developers and users alike. Imagine looking at a picture of a beach and feeling the grit of the sand. Perhaps you can feel the rough skin of those green pigs in Angry Birds (as they smile at you). Or maybe next-generation websites will come alive through touchable images or buttons.
We pretty much know (or think we know) everything else about the new iPad, but I’m going to bet dollars to donuts that this is the first iPad that, in a sense, can touch you back.
Update: Charles Arthur at the Guardian led the news on Senseg’s potential touch solution in the next iPad, calling attention to it yesterday. Another “no comment” comment was provided by Senseg to the Guardian when asked about the new iPad earlier this week.