Apple has been granted a patent today for an invention that enables a touchpad or touch surface to simulate textures like cool metal and hot cement.

The patent, originally filed in 2013 and called "Touch Surface for Simulating Materials" (via Patently Apple), appears in a series of 62 others published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and includes details on the mechanisms that would allow the touchpad to vibrate and change temperature.

Touch surface texture patent
An "actuator" would allow at least a part of the surface to vibrate and simulate the tactile sensation of the texture, with rougher surfaces simulated by stronger vibrations. By varying the vibrations over time in response to a finger moving over the touch surface, the control actuator would even be able to simulate irregular textures such as wood grain.

In combination with the actuator, a temperature control device could control the heat or coolness of the glass touch surface relative to the temperature of the detected contact. In one example, a layer of diamond material in the touch surface provides extremely high thermal conductivity, exceptional wear resistance and optical transparency.

As with any filed patent, the technology is unlikely to appear in any product soon, if at all. But it does offer some insight into Apple's ideas about how it might innovate upon haptic technology in its devices with simulated touch.

Last-minute rumors prior to the release of the third-generation iPad in 2012 suggested that the device could include haptic technology that would give on-screen objects texture, but the feature never appeared.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

smacrumon Avatar
72 months ago
I think this will be great for individuals who may be visually impaired, allowing a greater sensory experience while using their device. This is the kind of Apple I'm waiting to see again. New progressive technology.

Yes! Bring on new meaningful device upgrades!

Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
demodave Avatar
72 months ago
I think this will be great for individuals who may be visually impaired, allowing a greater sensory experience while using their device. This is the kind of Apple I'm waiting to see again. New progressive technology.

Yes! Bring on new meaningful device upgrades!
I agree. In principle, this could simulate braille.

That would be pretty bad-ass, and I think Apple would be the company to do it.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
notjustjay Avatar
72 months ago
While initially this sounds silly, I could see some interesting feedback that could be built into the UI. Someone already mentioned Braille. Maybe as I'm moving the cursor around, when the cursor slams into the edge of the screen I feel the edge with my finger. Or as it hovers over buttons I feel the button as a different texture than the rest of the window.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Aston441 Avatar
72 months ago
I just love touching hot cement.

?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Amacfa Avatar
72 months ago
Not sure how I 'feel' about this ;)
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kdarling Avatar
72 months ago
While that would be a great use of it, the most obvious use is outlawed because of Apple political correctness.
Yeah, when it's able to simulate lubrication, THEN it'll be a hugely popular breakthrough.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
macos catalina legacy system extension alert

Apple Begins Warning Users That 'Legacy System Extensions' Won't Work With a Future Version of macOS

Wednesday March 25, 2020 9:53 am PDT by
Apple has shared a new support document that indicates kernel extensions — which it calls "legacy system extensions" — will not be compatible with a future version of macOS because they "aren't as secure or reliable as modern alternatives."System extensions are a category of software that works in the background to extend the functionality of your Mac. Some apps install kernel extensions, which...
General Spotify Feature

Spotify Pauses Plans to Add AirPlay 2 Support to iOS App [Update: Spotify Clarifies]

Friday August 6, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
See update at bottom of article Spotify this week confirmed that its plans to add AirPlay 2 support to its iOS app have been placed on indefinite hiatus. In an online discussion forum post, a Spotify representative said the streaming music service had been working on supporting AirPlay 2, but the company has paused the efforts "for now" due to "audio driver compatibility issues." The...
apple privacy

Apple Publishes FAQ to Address Concerns About CSAM Detection and Messages Scanning

Monday August 9, 2021 1:50 am PDT by
Apple has published a FAQ titled "Expanded Protections for Children" which aims to allay users' privacy concerns about the new CSAM detection in iCloud Photos and communication safety for Messages features that the company announced last week. "Since we announced these features, many stakeholders including privacy organizations and child safety organizations have expressed their support of...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
m1 macbook air

Kuo: Mini-LED MacBook Air Coming in Mid-2022

Thursday July 22, 2021 7:48 pm PDT by
Apple will release a new version of the MacBook Air around the middle of 2022, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in note to investors seen by MacRumors. The upcoming MacBook Air will feature a 13.3-inch mini-LED display, which would make it the second Mac to gain mini-LED technology after the 2021 MacBook Pro, which is rumored to include a mini-LED display and is expected to launch later ...
Apple Films Tom Hanks Finch First Look

Apple Original Film 'Finch' Starring Tom Hanks to Premiere November 5

Thursday August 12, 2021 8:52 am PDT by
Apple today announced that the original film "Finch," starring Tom Hanks in its titular role, will premiere on Apple TV+ on Friday, November 5 and shared a first-look image from the film. The first look at "Finch," shared by Apple. The film, which is anticipated to be an awards season contender, revolves around a man, a robot (played by "Get Out" actor Caleb Landry Jones), and a dog that form ...
whatsintheboxiphonexs

Apple's iPhone XS, XS Max and XR Won't Ship With Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter

Wednesday September 12, 2018 12:58 pm PDT by
Since the headphone jack was removed from the iPhone with the launch of the iPhone 7, Apple has bundled iPhones with a Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter for customers who continue to have 3.5mm headphones. With the launch of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, Apple is discontinuing this practice and will not include the Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter. On the...
macbook air m1 first benchmark

Apple Silicon M1 Chip in MacBook Air Outperforms High-End 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Wednesday November 11, 2020 4:43 pm PST by
Apple introduced the first MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini with M1 Apple Silicon chips yesterday, and as of today, the first benchmark of the new chip appears to be showing up on the Geekbench site. The M1 chip, which belongs to a MacBook Air with 8GB RAM, features a single-core score of 1687 and a multi-core score of 7433. According to the benchmark, the M1 has a 3.2GHz base...
iphone 13 teal with text

Apple Begins Preparation for iPhone 13 Production Ahead of Fall Launch

Monday June 28, 2021 3:29 am PDT by
We're just a few months away from when Apple is expected to reveal the 2021 iPhone, dubbed the "iPhone 13." In preparation for its launch, it has been pulling in shipments of different components needed to produce the new iPhones, according to a report from DigiTimes. In years past, Apple released its latest iPhone lineup, alongside a new Apple Watch, during a September event at Apple Park....