Future Macs may sport even more haptic technology

Future Macs may sport even more haptic technology, or haptics, a tactile feedback technology that takes advantage of the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user. The Magic Mouse 2 already does this to some degree, thanks to its Force Touch technology.

Haptic mechanical stimulation can be used to assist in the creation of virtual objects in a computer simulation to control such virtual objects, and to enhance the remote control of machines and devices. It's been described as "doing for the sense of touch what computer graphics does for vision." 

Haptic devices may incorporate tactile sensors that measure forces exerted by the user on the interface. Among other advantages haptic, along with audio, feedback can substantially increase performance speed of computer "drag and drop" tasks for patients with age-related muscular degeneration, particularly in those patients with the most compromised vision. 

Also, in conjunction with visual feedback, haptic training may be an effective tool for teaching sensorimotor skills that have a force- sensitive component to them, such as surgery. And, of course, it's already being used in gaming with various joysticks, steering wheels and gaming controllers offering "force feedback." 

What's more, Apple has filed a patent (number 20120223824) is for a linear vibrator providing localized haptic feedback. The invention involves an apparatus for providing haptic feedback, including: a shell defining an aperture; a driver disposed within the shell; a mass disposed within the coil; and a projection connected to the mass and extending through the aperture. 

Here's Apple's background of the invention: "Many electronic devices use linear vibrators to provide generalized haptic feedback by shaking or vibrating the device enclosure. For example, many mobile telephones may be set to a vibrate mode, so that the phone body (e.g., enclosure) vibrates when a call is received in lieu of emitting an audible ring tone. However, linear vibrators typically vibrate the entire device and/or enclosure and thus provide generalized haptic feedback.

"In certain embodiments, it may be useful or desirable to localize haptic feedback. For example, certain electronic devices may use virtual or touch-based keyboards, buttons, and other input mechanisms. Without some form of localized feedback, it may be difficult for a user to detect if the input mechanism was properly or adequately touched. A generalized haptic feedback, such as vibrating the entire electronic device, may be insufficiently precise."